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"I'm uneasy about this most trendy and oversold community. Visionaries see a future of telecommuting workers, interactive libraries, and multimedia classrooms. They speak of electronic town meetings and virtual communities. Commerce and business will shift from offices and malls to networks and modems. And the freedom of digital networks will make government more democratic. Baloney,” — Clifford Stoll for Newsweek discussing the internet in 1995.
Digital assets that leverage blockchain technology have the ability to significantly enhance the performance of the U.S. financial system by bringing credit to consumers who do not use banks or banking services, creating new opportunities for entrepreneurs to raise capital, reduce transaction costs, increase efficiency, and enhance compliance. Despite this opportunity, digital assets are often met with skepticism. While this is healthy and not unprecedented for innovative technology, the U.S. must prioritize innovation.
Defining a digital asset
The term “digital asset” generally refers to an asset issued or transferred using distributed-ledger technology, such as “blockchain,” rather than in physical or tangible form. Since the first widespread commercial application of blockchain via Bitcoin over a decade ago, digital assets have continued to gain momentum.
They have the potential to promote the development of cutting-edge goods and services and to create innovative means of transferring value. Yet the swift ascent of this technology has often outpaced the capacity and willingness of regulators and other policy makers to ensure that regulatory regimes are adapted to foster innovation while protecting against the misconduct of bad actors — a challenging balance to strike.
To be fair, the pace of innovation, and in particular the development of blockchain applications incorporating digital assets, presents legislators and regulators with a host of questions as they seek to ensure the fair, orderly, and robust operation of the nascent digital asset marketplace.
Listening to digital assets innovators
In the span of a year, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness (CCMC) talked with innovators, market participants and policy experts about how to best innovate. These discussions led to several policy recommendations designed to keep the U.S. competitive. Our recently released paper titled, “Digital Assets: A Framework for Regulation to Maintain the United States’ Status as an Innovation Leader” outlines those recommendations for promoting innovation in the digital assets space and is shaped by themes we identified after speaking with countless firms operating in the marketplace.
Coinciding with the release of the paper, CCMC held an event featuring policymakers, regulators, and private sector experts who shared their views on why the digital assets ecosystem matters and what’s at stake if we don’t engage. The speakers also highlighted specific examples of how digital assets have the potential to impact everyday Americans.
Digital assets advocacy
The U.S. needs a regulatory framework that allows the digital assets marketplace to flourish in the U.S. Beyond spurring economic activity, there is also a geopolitical dimension to the U.S.’s innovation leadership. We are trailing other countries developing a favorable regulatory environment for digital assets — which may result in the U.S. ceding the economic and innovative capital they could deliver.
Working with our partners, CCMC will leverage our recently released paper to educate the public, regulators and policymakers on the opportunities and threats blockchain and digital assets innovation present. We seek to advance the best interests of consumers and investors with the essential goal of facilitating innovation to ensure that the U.S. maintains its technological leadership globally. Simply, the stakes are too high for the U.S. to fall behind and, like the internet, the opportunity of digital assets are too great to ignore.