US lawmaker urges congressional action on crypto as government avoids shutdown

“Chairman Gensler’s failure to provide clear rules of the road for cryptocurrencies underscores the need for Congress to act,” said Senator Pat Toomey.

Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey, one of the ranking members of the Senate Banking Committee, has suggested Congress step in with legislation should the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) be unable to provide sufficient guidance on cryptocurrencies.

In a Friday announcement from the Senate Banking Committee, Toomey said he was dissatisfied with the answers SEC chair Gary Gensler had provided on the differences between securities and commodities in regards to token projects and stablecoins. The senator questioned some of the SEC’s seeming disparities in enforcement actions between crypto firms and advisory services companies, including Glass Lewis for similar allegations of providing “fraudulent and misleading information.”

“For investors to benefit from a fair and competitive marketplace, federal agencies should answer questions about whether — and if so, how — new and emerging technologies fit under existing regulations,” said Toomey. “Chairman Gensler’s failure to provide clear rules of the road for cryptocurrencies underscores the need for Congress to act.”

Toomey has previously come out in support of the U.S. government launching a central bank digital currency and said he would vote in favor of President Joe Biden’s pick for the next Federal Reserve chair, Jerome Powell. In addition, the senator was behind a bipartisan effort in August to amend some of the provisions in the recently passed infrastructure law to not apply to developers, miners and others in the crypto space. Other U.S. lawmakers have proposed solutions to the tax reporting requirements following Biden signing the bill into law, as Toomey said Congress would “have to do it in subsequent legislation.”

Related: Lawmakers push back on crypto provisions in infrastructure bill

Though Congress has not yet acted on crypto as Toomey suggested, both the House and Senate were occupied passing a bill extending funding for the U.S. government through Feb. 18 in an effort to avoid a shutdown. President Biden signed the “Further Extending Government Funding Act” into law today.

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ASIC chair Longo calls the growing demand for crypto ‘impossible to ignore’

He told an audience that the rise of blockchain currencies has been “nothing short of phenomenal.”

Joe Longo, chair of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, or ASIC, spoke at the Australian Financial Review Super and Wealth Summit on Monday at the Fullerton Hotel in Sydney. 

The rise of crypto, he said, has been “nothing short of phenomenal, and impossible to ignore.”

As a corporate and markets regulator, Longo admitted to a certain fascination with decentralized autonomous organizations, or DAOs. He said that they present certain challenges for national regulators like ASIC:

“To paraphrase a concept familiar to corporate lawyers, to whom does ASIC turn to ascertain the directing mind and will of a DAO? It is not clear who is accountable if things go wrong, or don’t go as intended or anticipated. Nor is it clear how a DAO, itself, can be held accountable in a court of law.”

Longo recognized the high consumer demand for crypto products and services in Australia, and noted that ASIC still has important decisions to make with respect to policy on the crypto space, “Wherever we land from a policy perspective […] crypto is on our doorstep, here and now, and being driven by extraordinary consumer and investor demand.”

While his comments included caution for investors, the chair saw that the recent entrance of Commonwealth Bank to the crypto market by offering crypto trading functionality to its app users was an important step to recognize in the evolution of crypto markets:

“The fact [that] Australia’s largest bank is already proposing a means of crypto-exposure for its retail customers is telling. Yes, it’s only a pilot project, but the overall direction is clear. This debate is no longer on the fringes of the financial services industry.”

Australia’s interest in the blockchain space seems to have increased over the course of recent months. On Friday, Nov. 19, the CEO of the country’s Commonwealth Bank said that he is more concerned about missing out on the rise of this nascent technology than with any supposed risks relating to adoption. Back on Nov. 2, Australia’s Senate spoke glowingly of the industry, praising the nation’s crypto advocates for their willingness to embrace regulation.

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