Oversight of New Assets in the Digital Age

The U.S. House of Representatives held a hearing this morning to gather more information about Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to help further build a base of knowledge to inform new regulations.

The committee heard from industry leaders such as CEO and Co-Founder of Clovyr.  Ms. Baldet has been pushing for an increase in clarity and proper framework to protect consumers without stifling inovation, and she was not alone.

Joining her were Mr. Gorfine from the CFTC, Mr. Kupor of Andreessen Horowitz, Mr. Lowell Ness of Perkins Cole LLP, the Honorable Gary Gensler of MIT, and Mr. Fairfield; a professor of law.

The chairman noted the increase in attendance at the hearing, as well as addressing the question of why the agriculture committee is dealing with Bitcoin and distributed ledger technology in the first place.


“While digital assets are often thought of as payment systems or digital gold, I believe the promise that token networks hold is more universal and more exciting, quite frankly, than that.”

“For the first time we have a tool that enables individuals to reliably exchange value in a digital realm without an intermediary.  We can have assets that exist, can be created, exchanged, and consumed in digital form. The promise of being able to secure property rights in a digital form may fundamentally change the way how people interact with one another.”

The first step is to apply the Howey test and determine whether a token is a security.  If it’s not, there’s a good chance it’s a commodity and would fall under the Commodities Exchange Act. The problem is the Howey test is not always able to make a clear determination regarding cryptocurrencies.  The chairman also noted that Congress may want to consider developing a new framework “that takes into consideration the diverse characteristics and unique economic relationships embedded in many of the types of digital assets that can be represented by tokens.”

“Providing clear guidance to enable developers to determine the nature of their tokens, and then suitable rules to enable them to develop their project is essential to both protecting the public and promoting innovation.  How we regulate these projects and those that develop them won’t determine if they are developed or used, but it will determine where they’re developed and used.”

“We want that innovation done in our country.”

The price of Bitcoin has been rallying after confirming support near $6000 USD.


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