Cryptocurrencies are heading back to Capitol Hill on Wednesday.
On March 14, a subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing entitled “Examining Cryptocurrencies and ICO Markets.” The hearing marks the first time a group within Congress will specifically tackle the question of initial coin offerings (ICOs), an area that is firmly in the cross-hairs of agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as well as regulators around the world.
Statements from some of the members of the Capital Markets, Securities and Investment Subcommittee suggest that the hearing will have a largely educational bent. Speaking to CoinDesk last week, U.S. Representative Tom Emmer indicated that some of those attending are there to learn more about cryptocurrencies and token sales.
“I think this is going to be more elementary,” he said during an interview on the sidelines of last week’s DC Blockchain Summit in Washington, D.C. “I don’t think they understand the depth or breadth of this thing – yet.”
Other comments speak to the “appetite” for discussion that Emmer highlighted. In a statement to CoinDesk, Rep. Randy Hultgren expressed a desire to talk about investor protections as they relate to ICOs.
“I look forward to discussing how cryptocurrencies can open up new opportunities in our financial markets. Specifically, I’m interested in discussing how to balance access to credit and investor protection as it relates to so-called initial coin offerings,” he said.
A previously published list of witnesses certainly reinforces the informational nature of the hearing. Set to appear are Dr. Chris Brummer, a law professor from Georgetown University; Mike Lempres, Coinbase’s chief legal and risk officer; Peter Van Valkenburgh, research director for the non-profit advocacy group Coin Center; and Robert Rosenblum, a partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati.
The degree of legal expertise tapped for the panel suggests that the discussion is likely to revolve around regulatory topics, especially on the question of classifying some tokens as securities.
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The hearing represents the