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Bitcoin

Our Well-Timed Warning on FTX, Bankman-Fried and Future Cryptocurrency Regulations

This letter was sent to Senators, Congressmen of relevant committees, and regulators in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Securities and Exchange Commission, and Commodity Futures Trading Commission in the aftermath of the FTX collapse. The previous letter can be viewed here.

Referring to the previous letter we sent to lawmakers and regulators on October 26, 2022, warning of the influence and inherent financial risks posed by then FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried and his related companies, here we offer our thoughts on what you should consider for future regulation on digital assets, cryptocurrencies, and the platforms that use them.

As you will have read by now, the alleged criminal actions of Mr. Bankman-Fried and his affiliated companies (FTX International, FTX Europe, Alameda Research, etc.), have led to several bankruptcy filings, will likely lead to expensive lawsuits, and, without a doubt, will invite investigations and questions from your colleagues and committees in Congress. All of these are necessary and prudent.

The halting of withdrawals for billions of dollars of customer funds, the intermingling of company and customer assets, the collateralization of new crypto tokens backed by nothing, and the unsustainable leverage conspired to create one of the most calamitous events in recent financial history. It is a stain on the reputation of creative entrepreneurs and builders providing value in the cryptocurrency space. This is made all the more troubling by the influence of this company and its leaders in our nation’s capital.

The significant influence of Mr. Bankman-Fried and his companies among Congressional members and staff, donations to political campaigns, and the close relationship with regulators present a damning case of what happens when politically connected firms aim to control and shape legislation without input from consumers and citizens.

While decision-makers were eager to meet with Mr. Bankman-Fried and mirror his biased suggestions on cryptocurrency policy in legislation and enforcement actions, consumer groups like ours sounded the alarm about the conflicts of interest detrimental to sound and principled policy for the millions of Americans who use and invest in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.

The Consumer Choice Center began writing publicly about the conflicts of interest and risky financial dealings of these companies and Mr. Bankman-Fried in September 2022, and how they would pose a considerable risk both to the legitimate cryptocurrency industry and to the savings and investments of millions of consumers. We remain steadfast in our conviction.

That said, as consumer advocates, we remain optimistic about the promises of Bitcoin, its cryptocurrency offspring, and the innovative blockchains, decentralized technologies, and crypto services that have evolved around them.

Users of decentralized technologies, however, do not need an industry approach to regulation. Regulations exist to set the rules of the game, not to chart the leaders of the game. This previous approach gave cover to FTX and its affiliated companies and has led to the disaster we see today.

The main caution we invoke, therefore, is that many proposed regulations aim to cement existing industry players and lockout innovative upstarts, while at the same time requiring the same restrictive rules that caused many people to explore cryptocurrencies in the first place.

As we have stated, if rules on crypto and its customers help solidify the financial portfolios, positions, and stock prices of only a select few companies, this will drive innovation away from our shores.

The bad actions of this particular company, while shocking and injurious to many, reflect the mistakes and alleged crimes of those involved. They do not, in any certain terms, condemn the wonderful possibilities of a crypto future nor the millions of consumers who responsibly use these technologies.

The frauds allegedly perpetrated are not too far removed from those of regulated financial firms that have deservedly reaped the consequences of misbehavior, either by the market or law enforcement. That the end product was cryptocurrencies instead of credit default swaps or mortgages makes no difference.

Fraud is fraud and remains illegal no matter what product a company is selling.

This is a stark contrast to the system of fractional-reserve banking that now underlies much of the American financial system and creates the incentives of malfeasance aided by loose monetary policy.

We should not mistake the ills of the current system for those of cryptographically secure digital assets.

With that in mind, rather than the approaches of several self-interested industry leaders, consumers deserve regulation on cryptocurrencies and digital firms that enforce existing rules on fraud (known as “rug pulls”), remain technologically neutral, offer reasonable and minimal taxation, and provide legal transparency. Punishing fraud and abuse, insider trading, and self-dealing should remain the focus.

As consumer advocates, we promote the principle of “self-custody” for crypto consumers, holding private keys to digital assets. This is a cryptographically secure method of controlling cryptocurrencies as originally intended, and one that should be an industry standard. This is the strongest method by which exchanges, brokerages, and those who regulate them can protect consumers. 

The aim of cryptographic digital assets and decentralized digital cash, since the founding of Bitcoin in 2008 by Satoshi Nakamoto, has centered on creating permissionless, peer-to-peer transactions offering a final settlement in a decentralized manner. That should be the guiding principle rather than temporary self-interest.

The whims of a select few industry players, however successful they may be, cannot be the guiding light for the future of decentralized digital money, as the saga of FTX has proven.

The Consumer Choice Center created a policy primer on Principles for Smart Cryptocurrency Regulations in September 2021 to highlight these concerns and we hope you will apply them.

We remain at your disposal for any further exploration of how best to craft rules, guidance, and regulation on the future of cryptocurrencies in our country, so that all society may benefit.

Sincerely yours,

Yaël Ossowski

Deputy Director

Consumer Choice Center

Aleksandar Kokotovic

Crypto Fellow

Consumer Choice Center

Democrats’ ‘newest megadonor’ plummets on Election Day, forced to sell crypto company to biggest rival

Sam Bankman-Fried, the CEO of crypto exchange FTX and considered the Democrats’ “newest megadonor” ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, reportedly saw around $6 billion of withdrawals within 72 hours before Tuesday morning, forcing him to sell the company to its biggest rival on Election Day. 

Reuters reported that Changpeng Zhao, the leader of competitor Binance, said the company signed a nonbinding agreement on Tuesday to buy FTX’s non-U.S. unit to help cover a “liquidity crunch” at the rival exchange. The stunning bailout came about as American voters simultaneously went to the polls. 

“This is a truly crazy event in startup world. Dot-com bust level event,” tech reporter Eric Newcomer tweeted of the sale. 

Bankman-Fried, 30, was the second-biggest individual Democratic donor this election cycle behind top-ranking liberal billionaire contributor George Soros. He ranked sixth on the overall list of individual donors for the 2022 midterms regarding federal contributions. 

Read the full article here

Consumer Group Warns Regulators of FTX CEO’s influence on Upcoming Cryptocurrency Regulations

Washington, D.C. – Today the Consumer Choice Center sent a letter to Senators and Representatives involved in crafting and approving future cryptocurrency regulations, warning them of the substance of regulatory recommendations made by FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, which he made in a recent company blog post.

Bankman-Fried has, in recent years, become a primary player in American domestic politics, pledging to spend up to $1 billion to fund the Democratic Party’s 2024 efforts, and a notable figure promoting cryptocurrency regulatory policy — much of which would benefit his company and properties.

Yaël Ossowski, deputy director of the consumer advocacy group Consumer Choice Center, said “The reason for cautioning lawmakers is that the decentralization that powers the entire crypto ecosystem is at stake if they only hear from vested interests from oscillating agendas that won’t necessarily favor consumers.

“For those of us with a significant consumer interest in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies — protocols designed to be decentralized — to see so much capital and control vested in one person who has a major influence in crafting legislation to impact millions is a warning sign,” added Ossowski.

“Users of decentralized technologies do not need an industry approach to regulation. Regulations exist to set the rules of the game, not to chart the leaders of the game. The main caution we invoke is that many proposed regulations aim to cement existing industry players and lockout innovative upstarts, while at the same time requiring the same restrictive rules that caused many people to explore cryptocurrencies in the first place.

“Recent comments and suggestions by FTX CEO and noted Democratic Party fundraiser Sam Bankman-Fried, especially, leave us concerned. If rules on crypto and its customers help solidify the financial portfolios, positions, and stock prices of only a select few companies, this will drive innovation away from American shores. While many proposals laid out by Mr. Bankman-Fried do address consumer needs — especially as it relates to hacks, scams, and protection of funds — his recommendations for a highly licensed regime on all sides of digital transactions, especially Decentralized Finance (DeFi), go against the spirit of why cryptocurrencies were created in the first place,” he said.

“Last year, my colleagues and I at the Consumer Choice Center released our Principles for Smart Crypto Regulationunderscoring the need for preventing fraud, pursuing technological neutrality, reasonably low taxation, and legal certainty and transparency, which we believe will be a better framework for future regulation.

“It would benefit us all if future rules help empower consumers and the firms they interact with, punish fraud, abuse, and insider trading, and provide financial transparency.  The whims of a select few industry players, however successful they may be, cannot be the guiding light for the future of decentralized digital money,” concluded Ossowski.

***CCC Deputy Director Yaël Ossowski is available to speak with accredited media on consumer regulations and consumer choice issues. Please send media inquiries to yael@consumerchoicecenter.org.***

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Washington, Ottawa, Brussels, Geneva, and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org.

Europe’s comprehensive crypto legislation is being adopted. Here’s what you need to know.

The European Union’s Markets in Crypto Assets Regulation (MiCA), a legislation that aims to “harmonize the European framework for the issuance and trading of various types of crypto tokens as part of Europe’s Digital Finance Strategy,” which has been in the works for years, is finally ready. It has caused plenty of discussions, some controversy and has been feared — but also welcomed — by the crypto industry. Let us look into the process that led us here, what is still to come, and why this piece of legislation might be one of the most significant and comprehensive that we have seen in crypto yet.

MiCA, which will be applicable across all the member states in the European Union as well as with all businesses operating in the EU, has been in the works since early 2018. It first came into discussion following the bull market of 2017, a heady time where Bitcoin was making its new highs, a thousand tokens started flourishing amid Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) out of which more than half failed less than 4 months after the offering. 

The European Commission published its Fintech Action Plan in March 2018 and gave the mandate to the European Banking Authority (EBA) and European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) to review if the existing EU financial services regulatory framework applied to crypto assets. After deciding that most crypto assets are outside of the scope of current financial regulations, regulators began working on a new framework under the Digital Finance Package which eventually became MiCA. Since its initial inception, the crypto market went through a bear market, reaching its bottom in the early days of the pandemic followed by another bull market before taking a downward trend again in late 2021. New regulatory fears were ignited in the first two quarters of 2022 followed by events such as the Terra Luna stablecoin collapse and Three Arrows Capital and Celsisus bankruptcies. 

In such a fast-paced environment, it is not difficult to understand that MiCA’s scope had to evolve from its original conception. NFTs barely existed when the legislation was first being conceived, DeFi summer was nowhere in sight and Meta was still called Facebook and working on its much scorned Libra project (remember that one?). Creating a legal framework that would provide legal certainty for both investors and issuers in that sort of fast pace environment was not easy, and the regulators have been back to the drawing board a few times. What we have in front of us now will be the largest piece of legislation around crypto thus far. 

One of the major rules that will affect the industry is the requirements set for Crypto Asset Service Providers (CASPs) and investment firms and anyone providing custodial services. They will be liable for any loss of customer funds unless they are able to prove it was a result of events beyond their control. A number of measures deal with preventing insider trading and market manipulation. 

In the process of formulating MiCA, a number of heated discussions were held on proof-of-work, so called ‘mining’, and potential environmental effects of this practice. Even with significant pressure coming from certain groups, the legislators rightfully steered away from any potential bans on proof-of-work. However, actors in the crypto market will be required to declare information on their climate footprint. 

When it comes to decentralized financial protocols, they are not in the scope of MiCA and the European Commission will be publishing a separate report on them in 2023.

A large concern and a great deal of debate during the process of writing MiCA was focused on stablecoins. Following concerns expressed by the Council, additional restrictions on the issuance and use of stablecoins have been added to the legislation. Notably, MiCA has expressed the view that stablecoins could pose a threat to monetary sovereignty and opined that “central banks should be able to request the competent authority to withdraw the authorisation to issue asset-referenced tokens in the case of serious threats”. 

Asset referenced tokens (ARTs) as noted in the legislation should be redeemable at purchased price at all times, which more or less makes any non-fiat denominated stablecoins not viable to launch, making it almost impossible for innovation in that field to take place and stripping away European consumers from participating in such potential investments. Together with issuance caps and limits on large scale payments for non-euro denominated stablecoins, this creates a confusing and not consumer-friendly environment when it comes to these tokens.

Even with all the updates and desire to keep up with the developments in the crypto industry, MiCA does not cover some very important parts of the crypto economy today. NFTs are mostly outside of the scope of this legislation. However, EU parliament members argued that many NFTs are actually used as financial instruments and could be subject to different standards. Fractionalized NFTs on the other hand, as well as “non-fungible tokens in a large series

or collection should be considered as an indicator of their fungibility” and will be treated not as unique crypto assets similar to digital art or collectibles. 

The assets or rights represented by the NFT should also be unique and non-fungible for the asset to be considered as such. The fact that national enforcers could take inconsistent views on whether an asset can be considered non-fungible or not, if it requires a whitepaper or how exactly will it be regulated is something that should be of concern as it could potentially create many inconsistencies and concerns both for issuers and consumers. The EU is expected to publish another report on NFTs bringing more clarity to this area.

After the linguists are done with the final version of the text, the expectations are that MiCA will appear in the official journal sometime around April 2023, which would mean that stablecoin rules will start applying in April 2024 and CASP rules will be applied starting from October 2024. Considering the European Union is the third largest world economy, the effects of this legislation will have a broad impact on the industry, on retail consumers and investors, and definitely have some swway on other regulators around the world.

Having the European Union on the forefront of regulation of tech innovation is something that we have not seen much in the past. With MiCA being adopted, it will be up to the industry and consumers to make sure that the measures introduce certainty and allow for more innovation to flourish. Also, if those priorities stick, that these measures are copied and applied elsewhere. Either way, a long and exciting journey is ahead for everyone — regulators, investors and the broader crypto community.

EU’s Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Surveillance Rules to Harm Consumers

The European Union’s final trialogue between Council, Commission, and Parliament has finished crafting the first part of legislation that makes up the new EU anti-money laundering package aligned with the Markets in Crypto-assets rules (MiCA).

These rules are drafted following recommendations from the so-called Travel Rule of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global treaty organization that combats money laundering. The aim of this rule is to effectively track financial assets, and included crypto assets like Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies beginning in 2019,

The EU’s proposed rules introduce regulations that are far from technologically neutral, are detrimental to innovation, and will harm consumers who depend on cryptocurrency services.

Crypto asset service providers are obliged to keep records and provide traceability from the first euro compared to traditional finance where that requirement is set for transfers larger than 1000 EUR.

Crypto asset service providers will be required to collect information and apply enhanced due diligence measures with respect to all transfers involving non-custodial wallets. A number of risk-mitigation measures will be in place for cryptocurrency exchanges before establishing a business relationship with exchanges in third countries. 

Putting such stringent regulations on non-custodial wallets, together with introducing strict and complicated measures for cryptocurrency exchanges, will introduce unfavorable conditions for the growing industry and will cause a number of businesses to be forced and move their operations abroad – depriving consumers of their ability to safely and securely enjoy crypto services.

Putting these high regulatory costs in place is already influencing the decision-making of crypto asset service providers, now considering changing jurisdictions and moving to more favorable ones. These ham-handed regulations won’t only affect the industry, but many of the consumers who rely on them, pushing them to use non-EU exchanges. 

We have seen consumers voting with their feet in the past, choosing service providers in different countries to avoid similar measures, and this will be no exception.

With more Orwellian stipulations requiring that a consumer who sends or receives more than 1000 EUR to or from their own non-custodial wallet be verified by the crypto exchange, we will be seeing a number of issues arising both for the industry as well as for the consumers, putting additional costs to all transfers. 

The European Union has been criticized in the past for its overregulation especially when it comes to innovative technologies. Even though the EU has been relatively early in creating a comprehensive legal framework for cryptocurrencies, a number of the regulations agreed on will undoubtedly bring harm to both the industry and the retail consumer.

Surveillance of each consumer coupled with copious regulations aimed at crypto asset service providers will once again leave EU citizens looking for alternatives within jurisdictions more open to innovation, decentralization, and consumer-orientated regulatory frameworks.

The entire point of cryptocurrencies is to provide an alternative to the government-controlled fiat money system. These rules aim to disrupt that aim, principally by forcing industry players to comply with even stricter rules imposed on traditional finance institutions.

There is a better way to do this in order to promote innovation, protect consumers, and create a better ecosystem that will benefit all Europeans.

Our Principles for Smart Cryptocurrency Regulations policy primer is available to all regulators, and offers core principles to uphold in order to create regulatory guidance for the nascent industry without hurting innovation.

PRINCIPLES

  • Prevent Fraud
  • Technological Neutrality
  • Reasonable Taxation
  • Legal Certainty & Transparency

The temptation to regulate cryptocurrencies and the blockchain economy based on financial considerations alone, rather than the innovative potential, is an active threat to entrepreneurs and consumers in the crypto space.

Penalizing first-movers in crypto innovation or subjecting them to outdated laws will only serve to limit the unparalleled economic growth currently provided by the sector, or risk pushing all investment and entrepreneurship to less reliable and lawful jurisdictions.

The policy primer can be read in full here

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva, and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org.

If you would like to help us defeat harmful Bitcoin and cryptocurrency regulation, also using crypto, consider investing value in the Consumer Choice Center via our Donate page.

New York lawmakers just killed Bitcoin and crypto mining and consumers will suffer

Albany, NY – Early this morning, the New York State Senate joined with the State Assembly to pass a moratorium on Bitcoin and cryptocurrency mining, issuing yet another reminder that state lawmakers want to deny their residents from interacting with cryptocurrencies.

The law would prevent new permits from being issued to carbon-based fueled proof-of-work mining operations that use behind-the-meter energy, putting millions of dollars worth of investments into jeopardy. This follows the logic of the much-derided BitLicense regulation, which has made it nearly impossible for small and medium-sized firms to offer crypto services to New York residents.

“By passing this bill, New York lawmakers are unequivocally stating they want their residents completely locked out of cryptocurrencies, from generation and mining services to actually being able to easily buy them through an exchange,” said Yaël Ossowski, deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center, a consumer advocacy group.

“If Gov. Hochul signs this bill, it will drive a stake through the Bitcoin mining industry, and states like Florida, Montana, Utah, and Texas will rejoice at the opportunity to invite those entrepreneurs and innovators to establish operations in their states.

“Because Bitcoin, and cryptocurrencies more broadly, will serve a vital role in making finance more inclusive and accessible for sending, receiving, and saving value, we hold it in the interest of consumers that the hashrate (the total computing power of the network) continue to grow, and that better public policy on cryptocurrencies is embraced among states.

“New York, however, has decided to take the NIMBY approach and deny their residents that opportunity,” added Ossowski.

“Cryptocurrency generation and mining firms have an incentive to use the most affordable and renewable energy sources available, and the data backs up this claim. This is a win-win scenario for towns and localities with these facilities, for employees of these firms, residents in these towns that benefit from increased commerce, and energy customers overall,” said Ossowski.

“As cryptocurrency mining proliferated in New York, it opened up new entrepreneurial activities that helped improve the lives of New Yorkers in small communities and large urban centers alike. Passing a ban on these activities, in pursuit of an unclear climate goal, will negate these gains. There is a better path,” added Ossowski.

“The aim of embracing climate goals to ensure 100% renewable energy usage in cryptocurrency generation and mining is well-intended, but a complete ban will have a devastating impact on innovators and entrepreneurs hosting their facilities in the state of New York, and consumers and investors that rely on their services,” said Aleksandar Kokotovic, crypto fellow at the Consumer Choice Center. 

“We understand that the quick rise of cryptocurrency mining raises many questions for residents, particularly when it involves the local economy and environment. However, a more prudent path would be an environmental review conducted by relevant authorities, rather than a wholesale ban and moratorium that would put many projects in legal jeopardy,” added Kokotovic.

***CCC Deputy Director Yaël Ossowski is available to speak on consumer regulations and consumer choice issues. Please send media inquiries to yael@consumerchoicecenter.org.***

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Washington, Ottawa, Brussels, Geneva, and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org.

NIMBY Bitcoin mining ban threatens to lock New Yorkers out of the crypto revolution

By Yaël Ossowski

In 2015, when New York unveiled the BitLicense, a regulatory framework for Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, there was great fanfare among lawmakers. For innovators and entrepreneurs, however, that began what many labeled the “Great Bitcoin Exodus”.

And though it has been reformed since, much of the cryptocurrency space has walled off the Empire State because of the exhaustive regulations, leaving many customers unable to use a host of exchanges, brokerages, and other services. Residents were even prohibited from buying the much anticipated NYCCoin that launched last year.

Though some exchanges and brokers have applied and received the license — usually those armed with lawyers and staffed by former regulators — New Yorkers are still left out of most of the innovation happening with cryptocurrencies. Miners, however, decided to stay.

Bitcoin mining firms have scooped up abandoned plants in Niagara Falls, Buffalo, and more, using hydropower and natural gas to power the computers needed to “unlock” Bitcoin from the network. Regulators, however, are once again keen to put the screws to crypto. 

A bill awaiting its fate in the Senate would impose a two-year moratorium on crypto mining permits, and launch an expansive environmental review.

As a consumer advocate, I view this bill as a death blow to the Bitcoin and cryptocurrency industry, risking jobs and capital that could otherwise scale up renewable energy, and would deny the benefits of crypto and Bitcoin to consumers.

Embracing climate goals to ensure 100% renewable energy usage in mining is well-intended, but a complete ban would have consequences. It will be yet another signal to entrepreneurs and consumers that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are not welcome in New York, and the regulatory framework is too unfavorable to justify investing here.

For people feeling the impact of inflation, and for those who are locked out of the traditional finance and banking sector, their choices will become even more limited.

I understand the rise of cryptocurrency mining raises questions for residents, particularly when it involves the economy and environment. However, a more prudent path would be an environmental review conducted by relevant authorities, rather than a wholesale ban and moratorium that would put many projects in jeopardy.

When it comes to public policy on Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, I would rather side with financial inclusion and crypto innovation than a “Not In My Backyard” mentality.

New Yorkers deserve better: a choice of whether they want to participate in the crypto revolution, rather than have their lawmakers make that choice for them.

Yaël Ossowski is deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center

New Yorkers need prudence, not bans, on Bitcoin and cryptocurrency mining

On May 24, 2022, the Consumer Choice Center sent a letter to New York state lawmakers, warning of the potential consequences to consumers if bill S6486D was adopted, a moratorium on Bitcoin and cryptocurrency mining.

The full letter is available below, or in PDF version here.

Dear Senators,

We write to you to urge you to vote against S6486D, a companion bill to A7389C, which would order a state-wide moratorium on cryptocurrency generation or mining.

If passed, this bill would be a death blow to the Bitcoin and cryptocurrency industry, resulting in thousands of jobs lost in New York, a loss of capital to scale up renewable energy, and would harm all potential benefits to consumers from cryptocurrency projects and initiatives. 

The aim of embracing climate goals to ensure 100% renewable energy usage in cryptocurrency generation and mining is well-intended, but a complete ban will have a devastating impact on innovators and entrepreneurs hosting their facilities in the state of New York, and consumers and investors that rely on their services.

As a consumer group, it may seem odd for us to weigh in on a topic that affects mostly industry players and firms. However, because we believe that Bitcoin, and cryptocurrencies more broadly, will serve a vital role in making finance and economics more inclusive and accessible for sending, receiving, and saving value, we hold it in the interest of consumers that the hashrate (the total computing power of the network) continue to grow, and that better public policy on cryptocurrencies is embraced among state legislatures.

If the Bitcoin hashrate grows specifically in the United States, then we will have more control in how mining develops and how it can benefit the country, its citizens, and our energy grids.. This last part is vital for climate goals, which cannot be said for China or other nations.

According to the latest figures from the first quarter of 2022 on Bitcoin mining specifically, 58.4% of miners are using renewable energy sources, and that number has only increased in several years. In New York, many firms are retooling abandoned processing and power generation plants to build cryptocurrency data centers, and are providing economic value in return that is putting renewable energy to work.

What’s more, this wide-ranging energy diversification is happening at a pace faster than any other industry, leading to more investment in renewable energy capacities and delivery systems. This increased demand is leading to more environmentally favorable energy delivery for customers of all public electricity utilities, and will also help bring down costs. And this is being carried out due to the incentives of firms and individuals who participate in adding hash rate to mining: they want to lower their costs and find better alternatives. 

Cryptocurrency generation and mining firms have an incentive to use the most affordable and renewable energy sources available, and the data backs up this claim. This is a win-win scenario for towns and localities with these facilities, for employees of these firms, residents in these towns that benefit from increased commerce, and energy customers overall.

As cryptocurrency mining has proliferated in New York, it has opened up new entrepreneurial activities that will help improve the lives of New Yorkers in small communities and large urban centers alike. Entertaining a ban on these activities, in pursuit of an unclear climate goal, will negate these gains. There is a better path.

It should not surprise you to know that New York’s previous policy decisions, including the highly criticized BitLicense, have locked many New Yorkers out of the new cryptocurrency ecosystem due to the high compliance costs. Some New Yorkers have chosen to change residences in order to acquire cryptocurrency or to invest in crypto businesses, which they can do in any other state, but more specifically Texas, Wyoming, and Florida.

If this moratorium on cryptocurrency generation comes to pass, it will be yet another signal to entrepreneurs and consumers that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are not welcomed in New York, and the regulatory framework is too unfavorable to justify investing here.

A number of industry organizations, communities, and unions have already expressed their concerns about the impact this bill would have on their families and livelihoods, fearing potential job loss in case industry gets driven away from the state as a result of this legislation. The loss of future investments and new jobs is another concern expressed by many communities in cities such as Rochester, Albany, and Syracuse.

According to the May 2022 Empire State Manufacturing Survey, the general business conditions index has dropped thirty-six points statewide. The last thing many affected and marginalized communities need is a moratorium that would drive businesses away from the state, and keep millions of New Yorkers from being included in a new system of value.

We understand that the quick rise of cryptocurrency mining raises many questions for residents, particularly when it involves the local economy and environment. However, a more prudent path would be an environmental review conducted by relevant authorities, rather than a wholesale ban and moratorium that would put many projects in legal jeopardy.

As consumer advocates, we are strongly opposed to this bill. We believe that New York residents deserve a chance to take part in the nascent industry that so many other states are hoping to accommodate. Using the force of regulation to drive away investments and jobs, stop economic progress, and shut out millions of New Yorkers from a more inclusive financial system would not only be wrong, but it would also be negligent.

Please vote No on S6486D aiming to place a moratorium on proof-of-work and help New York become a hub of innovation that embraces new technologies. New Yorkers should have the opportunity to participate in one of the biggest innovations of our age. With your vote against this bill and a more prudent direction, we can ensure that will happen.

Sincerely Yours,

Yaël Ossowski

Deputy Director

Aleksandar Kokotovic

Crypto Fellow

EU Risks ‘Forever Stalling’ Digital Innovation With A Bitcoin Ban

The European Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs will vote today on a comprehensive regulatory proposal called MiCA (Market in Crypto-Assets). This proposal has been in the works for months, however, last-minute several amendments have been added to the proposal, which if accepted could effectively ban Bitcoin and cryptocurrency mining in the European Union, pushing thousands of innovators out of Europe.

“By effectively prohibiting the issuance or offering for exchange of crypto-assets that rely on proof-of-work protocols under environmental, social, and governance guidelines, the European Union would make a disastrous move that would obliterate not just the nascent crypto industry but also hurt consumers and once again cede technological leadership in innovation to the United States,” said Aleksandar Kokotović, crypto fellow at Consumer Choice Center, a global consumer advocacy group.

Read the full article here

Potentials for Bitcoin in State Government

Our country is dealing with some of the highest inflation in a generation while COVID jitters and government restrictions shake the economy. But state and local policymakers are not powerless to protect their residents. There is always Bitcoin.

In a time of inflation, ballooning government debts, and broader financial uncertainty, a Bitcoin-first policy would be a welcome message.

The main advantage of Bitcoin, apart from being an alternative to the monetary manipulation of Washington, is that it is digital cash based on a decentralized and transparent public ledger that must be verified by thousands of independent nodes, or computers. It is forever limited to just 21 million units, and it can be sent to anyone around the world who has a wallet address. 

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez is one of the most prominent Bitcoin-loving public officials. He has pledged to make Miami a “Bitcoin City” and already receives 100 percent of his paycheck in Bitcoin. He has joined forces with Scott Conger, mayor of Jackson, Tenn., in finding an option to pay city workers in Bitcoin as well.

For his part, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has made the boldest move of all, including cryptocurrency payment of state fees as a multi-department pilot project in his 2022 budget.

If East Coast mayors and governors can hop on the Bitcoin train, why not everywhere?

State lawmakers could pass legislation allowing treasurers to hold Bitcoin on the state’s balance sheet. That authorization could also allow local governments to follow suit. 

Lawmakers could also welcome Bitcoin mining, as Texas has already done. Mining is the process of unlocking new blocks of Bitcoin by using computing hash power to solve complex algorithms. Some states already provide a sales tax exemption for data centers. That exemption could be broadened to also benefit Bitcoin miners.

As Jesse Colzani has pointed out, rural areas of the world with low energy costs have the biggest economic advantage in Bitcoin mining. Mining computers only need a reliable internet connection, a cool environment, and access to stable power. Welcoming miners would increase investment in facilities, jobs, and help return dividends to local and state coffers. By making it easier for price and energy-conscious Bitcoin miners to relocate, it could help spur a new energy revolution that would dwarf that of hydroelectricity or natural gas.

At present, some states offer financial service companies licenses via the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System & Registry. For Bitcoin specifically, this means registered brokers, or “money transmitters”, can apply for licenses in multiple states that are honored in others. That is a great first step, but it should be even easier.

By offering full reciprocity of money transmitter licenses, any state could ensure that Bitcoin firms could set up shop without hassle in a big city or small town alike. That would be similar to the reciprocity of occupational licenses, which reduce barriers to work and make it easier for qualified individuals to work anywhere. Let’s do the same for the money of the future.

The quick-moving technology of the crypto space is numbing at times, but the role of government is to set clear and easy guidelines for entrepreneurs and citizens.

By opening itself to Bitcoin and the broader cryptocurrency space, states like Texas, North Carolina, or Idaho would have an advantage over the highly regulated financial markets based in New York or California. Low taxes coupled with a light-touch regulatory environment and openness to entrepreneurship would be key to this evolution.

While there are vast philosophical questions invoked by the role of digital assets, the advantage of giving more choice to state residents cannot be overstated. It is a real alternative.

By instituting pilot projects to let citizens offer bitcoin as payment for state fees or keeping it on state balance sheets, giving crypto options for state employees, and easing the regulatory burdens faced by crypto entrepreneurs, states have the opportunity to ensure their residents are ready for the digital age, to the moon and beyond.

Originally published here

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