Big Crypto: Major Players in Crypto Space Forming the Blockchain Association, a Washington-Based Lobbying Group

On Tuesday (11 March 2018), the Washington Post reported that some of the biggest names in the crypto space were coming together to form a Washington, DC-based lobbying group called the Blockchain Association in an attempt to "launch a charm offensive targeting federal lawmakers and regulators who've taken an interest in cryptocurrencies."

This is the first dedicated lobbying group that will be representing the interests of the blockchain industry. In a post on its Medium Blog, the Blockchain Association described its objective:

"Our objective is to create a pro-innovation environment for the industry, meeting the growing global demand for accessible, transparent and democratic financial and technical systems. To do that, we’ll foster collaboration between the community and industry leaders, educate policymakers and the public on the benefits of blockchain and related technologies, and advocate for public policy that cultivates and enables innovation and improves lives."

The post also explained how the idea for this group came about:

"The Blockchain Association came together these past few months not in a bubble, but over coffees, dinners, video calls, and perhaps most importantly, during New York’s Blockchain Week."

The Blockchain Association's membership will be comprised of blockchain startups, funds, and exchanges; Protocol Labs, Digital Currency Group, Polychain Capital, Coinbase, and Circle are some of the founding members.

One of its first hires is Kristin Smith, a former lobbyist for Overstock.com. She told Washington Post:

"I've been spending a lot of time doing a lot of the basic education work in this space. I'm excited to focus exclusively on these issues."

Mike Lempres, Coinbase's Chief Legal & Risk Officer, said:

"The Blockchain Association is an effort to get the preeminent companies in the space together so [policymakers] know they're hearing from companies that welcome regulation when it’s appropriate. We’re not companies looking to game the system, but trying to develop a legal and regulatory system that’ll stand the test of time."

Jerry Brito, the executive director of Coin Center, which calls itself "the leading non-profit research and advocacy center focused on the public policy issues facing cryptocurrency and decentralized computing technologies like Bitcoin and Ethereum", welcomed the announcement, and said that his organization was looking forward to working alongside the Blockchain Association in Washington, DC:

"We’re happy to see this development for a few reasons. First, more voices—and more resources—aimed at educating policymakers about open blockchain technology, and how it intersects with the law, is always a good thing. Second, there are certain issues that only industry can address. For example, developing industry best practices that members can agree to abide is the kind of thing that an industry group can do—and it is needed. Finally, it helps clarify the distinction between industry interests, on the one hand, and Coin Center’s digital rights advocacy mission, on the other."

"... we share with the Blockchain Association a vision of a regulatory climate that welcomes permissionless blockchain networks and privacy preserving cryptocurrency. So, welcome to our friends at the Blockchain Association! We’re glad you’re here and we can’t wait to work with you."

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