The US Senate Hearing on Crypto Regulations: The Impact on FinTech Innovation

Two weeks after the Libra Senate Hearing, the US Senate Banking Committee held an official hearing on the regulation frameworks that currently exist in the crypto industry in the US, and whether those regulations are helping or hurting consumers using financial services.

With the conversations fixated on the Libra project and its potential development for worldwide use, the Senate has established various concerns on the idea that a big, global corporation like Facebook will be overseeing billions of user data points and facilitating financial payments. However, there are other small and medium enterprises that are making waves in the market.

Although it is evident that blockchain technology has proven to be secure and efficient, the hearing has addressed valid concerns on further expanding crypto adoption for the everyday consumer to shift innovation and technology trends.

Here are three key take-aways on fintech innovation, revealed from the hearing, that regulation must address in order to provide a bright future for crypto adoption.

1. Regulations discouraging crypto usage can drive away innovative talent.

If we pin the U.S. on a spectrum of cryptocurrency acceptance, it would be in the middle. Yes, there are regulatory frameworks and financial innovation that co-exist, allowing for increased crypto adoption and crypto innovation that reduces risk and fraud. However, on the opposite ends of the spectrum where cryptocurrency is banned, innovation and crypto adoption will not be viable in the future. This could signify that the U.S. will suffer as well, as countries that foster crypto adoption such as Switzerland, will become a highly attractive location for firms and bright talent. Simply put, we are innovative where we are allowed to be — which is limiting the US’s potential to be a tech leader. Yet, the Senate is recognizing that the first step to becoming a tech leader is to be aware of the technological developments happening — and that is accepting blockchain and AI technology.

2. The future of crypto usage by society will not solely be driven by the technologically-savvy, but rather the unbanked consumers who need access to better financing options.

Today’s innovative projects are targeting mass market adoption of digital assets and applications, but we are nearing the potential future where blockchain platforms will empower millions and possibly billions of users — all within the next few years. With a greater focus on creating a user-friendly product for low-income consumers with limited accessibility to the bank, with features that proves it to be a product that is safe, simple, convenient, and inexpensive. The solution to financial inclusivity is cryptocurrency: if mass market adoption is successfully implemented to ensure consumers, retailers and services make that transition from cash to crypto. For fintech firms, this means investing into advancing the capabilities of crypto trading platforms to everyday usage for the everyday consumer, ensuring ease across point-of-contact. For regulators, this means looking at financial policies that can bridge the gap between the consumer and digital currency. We are already seeing partnerships made with retail payment systems in select brick-and-mortar stores, but there is a strong possibility of this trend becoming a norm for shoppers.

3. Today’s financial system is unaccommodating for the direction where crypto adoption is headed in terms of opportunity and innovation.

The U.S. is starting to recognize the fact that blockchain technology is rapidly initiating revolutionary trends and applications in the fintech market, allowing for growth and efficiency for businesses to innovate with digital assets. The financial system will need to acknowledge the complexity of the features of digital assets; yet, the thousands of digital assets that exist are treated with little versatility. Digital assets are a currency, a commodity, a utility and a security, it is imperative for regulators to recognize that this form of asset is functions differently and that may mean revising the existing definition, rules and regulations. By establishing it as a new asset class, this will allow innovators a legitimate regulatory framework to operate in and provide certainty for businesses and consumers.

By establishing accurate and effective regulations for digital assets with an official policy, fintech firms can operate with ease and to design technologies in an environment where they can grow and develop crypto projects. Thus, it will provide an economic and social benefit for not only the US, but also businesses and consumers to retain talent and technology.