Though crypto is not a campaign issue, the individuals selected by the president will decide the government’s approach for the next four years
The 2020 US Presidential elections are just around the corner and its significance is not lost to the crypto community as the outcome will determine the country’s crypto policy for the next four years. Though none of the candidates have pitched crypto-specific positions, the individuals appointed by the elected president in federal agencies will play a key role in shaping the approach on issues from central bank digital currencies to the legal status of tokens.
Kristen Smith, executive director of the Blockchain Association, an industry lobbyist group explained the importance of the election by saying “We have major regulatory issues, major legislative issues, [and] the people who are going to be in place will play an outsize role in that.”
Though four candidates are on the ballot this year, most major polls agree that the race is between Republican candidate President Donald Trump and Democratic Candidate Former Vice President Joe Biden. While Trump had previously bashed cryptocurrency, stating he is “not a fan” of Bitcoin, Biden has not publicly stated his views towards blockchain or cryptocurrency.
The individuals appointed by the President as the chairs of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) will be crucial in the government’s approach to crypto.
Commissioner Hester Peirce, also known as “Crypto Mom” for her pro-crypto stance and regulatory leniency might lead the SEC, at least temporarily, if Trump emerges victorious. Democratic Commissioners Caroline Crenshaw and Allison Herren Lee are potential candidates if Biden wins.
Ron Hammond, an industry lobbyist and former aide to Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) expects the agency to take more enforcement actions next year, particularly if Biden wins. “There’s a lot of enforcement staff who want to make sure they have a job next [year] regardless of who wins,” he said.
Regulation by enforcement seems to be the strategy of securities regulators over developing a comprehensive framework. The CFTC Chair Heath Tarbert is expected to stay on while proposed candidates for the OCC are unknown, Hammond added.
While the Federal Reserve has indicated that research into technologies that can support the US Dollar are in progress, whether or not the US issues a CBDC is still unclear. Boston Fed Governor Lael Brainard, who discussed the issue of CBDCs in a speech earlier this year is rumored to be Biden’s pick for Treasury Secretary. In the case of Trump’s victory, Hammond believes that Fed Chair Jerome Powell would be likely to continue.
A potential Biden administration is mostly unknown while a second Trump term could be more familiar to the crypto space, Smith stated. Crypto-adjacent issues like data privacy, antitrust/big tech, and consumer protection might take the center stage in the next four years, the exec concluded.
Written by Harshini Nag