WASHINGTON, D.C. — The CEOs of six cryptocurrency companies appeared before Congress in a landmark hearing Wednesday to make their case for how lawmakers should approach regulating the growing industry.

What You Need To Know

  • Six cryptocurrency CEOs testified before a House committee Wednesday in the first major congressional hearing about the digital currency

  • Lawmakers are trying to figure out how the booming industry should be regulated

  • Ohio Reps. Tim Ryan (D) and Warren Davidson (R) are teaming up to try to alter language in the infrastructure law that impacts crypto

  • Davidson said Congress is becoming more informed about the world of digital currency

“This is the first time Congress is having a hearing about cryptocurrencies in its fullness,” Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-North Carolina) said at the start.

The digital currency world watched closely as the CEOs fielded questions from members of the House Financial Services Committee about why their industry should be taken more seriously.

“There are more than 220 million crypto holders globally. And around 16% of Americans have invested in, traded or used cryptocurrency,” said Alesia Jeanne Hass, CEO of Coinbase Global Inc.

The crypto market has exploded to more than $2 trillion and Congress is trying to figure out if it should be regulated like the traditional banking world, or differently.

The CEOs argued some guardrails will help legitimize the industry as it keeps growing, but too much government oversight could have a chilling effect.

“I think that it is healthy that the industry will be regulated. I think it is also already regulated in a number of ways,” said Samuel Bankman-Fried, CEO of FTX.

Jeremy Allaire, CEO of Circle, added, “Soon, we believe that dollars on the internet will be as efficient and widely available as text messages and email.”

While some lawmakers remain skeptical, there is bipartisan agreement by others that this new market is important to embrace and they should find a balance in regulating it.

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) has teamed up with Rep. McHenry (R-North Carolina) to try to alter regulatory language in the new infrastructure law that they worry could push crypto leaders to do business in other countries.

“We should work to fully understand the opportunities the next generation of the internet can provide to Americans,” McHenry said during the hearing.

In an interview with Spectrum News on Wednesday, Ryan said, “There's an opportunity here for growth and jobs, and really for the United States to be a leader in this new technology.”

This first hearing was a big deal for the crypto world, but it’s only the beginning.

The Senate Banking Committee, which is chaired by Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown (D), will have its own hearing on the topic next week.

Still, Congress is far from crafting any legislation.

Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio), a leading voice in Congress abut crypto, came away from Wednesday’s hearing encouraged by the informed questions that were asked.

“I’m impressed with how much of a knowledge gap has been closed by my colleagues,” Davidson told Spectrum News.

Davidson is also cosponsoring the legislation Ryan and McHenry introduced.