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On Wednesday, December 08, 2021, at 10:00 a.m. (ET) full Committee Chairwoman Waters and Ranking Member McHenry will host a virtual hearing entitled, “Digital Assets and the Future of Finance: Understanding the Challenges and Benefits of Financial Innovation in the United States.”
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Witnesses for this one-panel hearing will be:
• Jeremy Allaire, Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO, Circle
• Samuel Bankman-Fried, Founder and CEO, FTX
• Brian P. Brooks, CEO, Bitfury Group
• Charles Cascarilla, CEO and co-Founder, Paxos Trust Company
• Denelle Dixon, CEO and Executive Director, Stellar Development Foundation
• Alesia Jeanne Haas, CEO, Coinbase Inc. and CFO, Coinbase Global Inc.
Since 2008, financial technology and markets innovation have fostered a new digital asset class and introduced new forms of investing, trading, and payments. These new digital assets have been made possible by advances in cryptography and distributed ledger technology (DLT). Digital assets, such as cryptocurrencies, stablecoins (a subset of cryptocurrencies pegged to a stable reserve asset), and central bank digital currencies are all digital representations of value. The market value of the digital asset ecosystem expanded significantly from approximately $500 billion in 2020 to almost $3 trillion as of November 2021. Over the past few years, the cryptocurrency market composition has shifted from being overwhelmingly dominated by the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, to a host of new digital assets and technologies gaining market share, each with different structural and activity features, including Ether, stablecoins, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), decentralized finance platforms (DeFi), and others.
Given the digital asset sector’s growth and evolution, several questions have arisen as to how regulators can ensure investor protections, ensure consumer protections, and maintain market integrity. The House Committee on Financial Services has explored the emergence of cryptocurrencies as an asset class for investors, implications for consumer privacy and financial inclusion, and the promises and perils of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs).7 This hearing will examine some of the new products and services offered by major digital assets market participants, the role of cryptocurrency market exchanges in facilitating investments in cryptocurrency and related transactions, the growth of stablecoins and other digital assets, and the current regulatory landscape governing these new products and services.
Cryptocurrency Market Exchange Participants
Cryptocurrency market exchanges are market structures where digital asset buying, selling, lending, and borrowing can occur. These platforms facilitate the offer and sale of cryptocurrencies for other assets, including digital and fiat currencies, and set the rate for conversion between these currencies. Trading platforms can charge transaction fees for moving or withdrawing money from an account. Some industry observers perceive digital asset trading platforms as similar to national securities exchanges in functionality. However, without filing registration paperwork or seeking an exemption from registration with the SEC, some exchanges have unilaterally determined that they are not subject to the same regulatory regime, leading to policy debates on market integrity, investor protection, and innovation. Cryptocurrency exchanges have garnered scrutiny from regulators domestically and abroad over their rapid growth, as well as the complex and risky products they offer. Coinbase, one of the largest cryptocurrency market exchanges by market capitalization, became a publicly traded company on April 14, 2021.11 Coinbase is also affiliated with USD Coin, the second largest stablecoin, issued by Circle. Other large cryptocurrency exchanges with millions of users include Binance, FTX, and Kraken. FTX US recently acquired LedgerX, an entity registered with the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and is a designated contract market (DCM), derivatives clearing organization (DCO), and swap execution facility (SEF), which enables FTX to offer crypto futures, swaps, and options…