There’s a lot going on in crypto. The market is in flux, with Bitcoin hovering around $50K after seeing earlier lows of under $45K late last week. This movement makes some harbor doubts towards a suspected “Santa Rally” later in the month, with these bearish patterns reflecting a low likelihood of a fast bounce-back to buy territory. However, the new opportunities created by the dip are getting notice from investors and enterprises alike. (Coindesk)
Visa, a company that shows no fear in embracing the crypto movement, announced the launch of a new crypto advisory unit this week to help financial institutions and Visa clients get on board. The Visa Global Crypto Advisory Practice will function as a division of its consulting and analytics department and will advise banks on ways to leverage the crypto space and use crypto products to retain clients.
This also has the potential to bring more adoption and accessibility to the mainstream consumer audience, as was highlighted by Voyager CEO and co-Founder Steve Ehrlich earlier this week. Ehrlich observed that, by bringing more crypto education to their merchants, Visa will “bring even more value for retail consumers and give them more access to utilize cryptocurrencies and ways to utilize blockchain to make their lives more efficient.” (Fox Business)
While part of the incentive behind developing this practice is remaining competitive in the finance space, it can also be attributed to an influx of inquiries to Visa directly from various enterprises over the course of the last year, ranging anywhere from banks to credit unions and merchants. Uma Wilson, executive vice president of UMB Bank, spoke out about the guidance UMB hopes to receive from Visa as a new beacon of crypto consult: “We came to Visa to learn more about crypto and stablecoins and the use cases that are most relevant for our retail and commercial business lines.” (Cointelegraph)
A Visa spokesperson provided further clarity on the growing importance of fintech institutions staying on their game and keeping up with adoption, citing the use cases for crypto exchanges.
“—those crypto platforms are not just offering crypto services; they’re offering payment credentials that allow their customers to spend converted fiat, and in some cases savings or lending products as well. It’s important for [financial institutions] to think beyond their own ecosystem and how they can add value, or help their customers better navigate the world of crypto.” (Blockworks)
This sentiment highlights a growing need for change. With crypto apps offering state-of-the-art advancements like crypto debit cards and up to 12% rewards on assets (hint: Voyager), banks can no longer ignore the need to stay relevant and competitive in the crypto space.
The Fed is and has been feeling similar pressure. While enterprises look to expand the crypto ecosystem, the government looks to regulate it. This week, chief executives of six cryptocurrency companies testified before the House Financial Services Committee at a hybrid hearing on digital assets in hopes of emphasizing the need for balance in the regulation of the new financial world.
The hearing was titled “Digital Assets and the Future of Finance: Understanding the Challenges and Benefits of Financial Innovation in the United States” and focused on examining “some of the new products and services offered by major digital assets market participants, the role of cryptocurrency market exchanges in facilitating investments in cryptocurrency and related transactions, the growth of stablecoins and other digital assets, and the current regulatory landscape governing these new products and services.” A lot to cover in one hearing, particularly one that lasted 5 hours. (Cointelegraph)
The potential that crypto creates for the national economic future is both powerful and significant, and with this comes excitement and trepidation from government officials. Bearing in mind the recent Fidelity ETF that launched in Canada, the United States is now also trying to enact regulation to prevent crypto opportunities from leaving the mainland—the old you snooze, you lose conundrum. California Representative Maxine Waters called for the hearing as a crypto “fact-finding mission” to help Congress gain some clarity on next steps.
Stablecoins in particular, with their ever-growing market cap and set of use cases for citizens, are a large incentive for discussion. The Committee’s reception of the topic took a more optimistic tone than it has historically, as it was highlighted several times that stablecoins themselves could be the key to the U.S. dollar sustaining its global dominance. That being said, the overall concern amongst Congress of stablecoin assets destabilizing the economy still remains. Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire defended the security and usefulness of this new asset class, saying at the hearing, “Well-designed stablecoins are safer than bank deposits.” (Bloomberg)
Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, called a hearing for the coming weeks that focuses solely on the future of stablecoins and CBDCs, saying, “I want responsible innovation, and that means rules.” (New York Times)
The Biden Administration echoed this sentiment with the installation of a National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team, a part of its new anti-corruption strategy for the financial market. The 38-page report released earlier this week details a five-pillar plan to eradicate corruption in the financial space. Pilar III, titled Holding Corrupt Actors Accountable, directly addresses crypto tax fraud and money laundering.
“DOJ will utilize a newly established task force, the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team, to focus specifically on complex investigations and prosecutions of criminal misuses of cryptocurrency,” states the document, “particularly crimes committed by virtual currency exchanges, mixing and tumbling services, and money laundering infrastructure actors.” (Cryptopotato)
These attempts to refine regulation and oversight in the crypto market indicate a growing seriousness of the government’s view on cryptocurrencies. We’re finally seeing more nuanced discussions amidst officials and consumers alike, validating the long-term value of crypto, which now takes up residency in millions of portfolios across the country. The rest of the world is following suit, with Australia planning to enforce a cryptocurrency reform plan in 2022 and El Salvador taking Bitcoin HODLing to a whole new level.
And Bitcoin has had one hell of a year, increasing its value by 70% compared to the first day of 2021. Grayscale Investments just released a study showing 26% of the American investors already own Bitcoin, with 55% of them being new to the market over the last year. This means that 1 in every 4 American’s is holding Bitcoin as a long-term investment. It was only a few years ago—perhaps even less—that wealth managers dared not mention crypto to their clients.
The future is moving in fast from the deep web to the floors of the White House, and for every question Congress can ask, there is an answer. Fact-finding isn’t the difficult part, it’s getting the fears of a few to secede to the hopes of many. Regulation can open doors instead of closing them, introduce opportunities instead of barring them, and build promise where we are sorely lacking. These hearings will continue as we create a foundation for the future we’re already standing in, and find agreement on the financial advancements we, the people, deserve for a more democratized tomorrow.
Landon Cassill x Voyager: NASCAR 2022
Voyager is excited to announce that NASCAR driver Landon Cassill is extending his crypto-based Voyager partnership through the 2022 season.
Check out Landon’s sleek ride below and read the press release to see how he’s bringing crypto to everyone, on the race track and off, with Voyager.
Coindesk > "Polygon Acquires Ethereum Scaling Startup Mir for $400M in MATIC"
Benzinga > "Why This CEO Thinks The US Government Is Already Mining Bitcoin"
Cryptopotato > "Puerto Rico to Combat Corruption with Blockchain, Says Government Official"
Cointelegraph > "Crypto CEOs request Congress provide regulatory clarity at hearing on digital assets"
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