There’s a new hero in crypto town and this time it ain’t a geeky programmer in his twenties. Christopher Giancarlo, Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), is fast becoming something of a rock star in the crypto community.
Giancarlo’s Twitter followers have grown seven-fold since yesterday (Tuesday) morning, and he’s getting tons of memes and favorable tweets dedicated to him. If that’s not enough, the hashtag #giancarloforpresident is trending heavily on Twitter right now.
Regulators are usually not the most popular people in the crypto community. But yesterday, this key regulator/enforcer of the US financial market got his 15 minutes of fame. Giancarlo addressed the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs in what was one of the most important public discussions about how regulators should treat cryptocurrency, blockchain technology and ICOs.
Chairman Giancarlo @giancarloCFTC , you have won the hearts and minds of crypto twitter.
Please be gentle. pic.twitter.com/sVCgcpd7Qg
— Le Mouton Noir (@MoutonNoir67) February 6, 2018
The discussion was called “Virtual Currencies: The Oversight Role of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission”. The opening remarks were made by SEC head Jay Clayton, and Giancarlo took the floor after him. As you can imagine, the expectations of crypto enthusiasts were that they would hear the usual FUD speech (like the one given on that same day by the head of the Bank of International Settlements), full of scepticism towards the new technology.
Surprised how well @giancarlocftc was with remarks. Explaining memes to Senators must not be easy & could have been different. ‘Well, it all started one night when a guy on a series of tubes was intoxicated … and misspelled hold #HODL … terrorism.’ ? https://t.co/2uqyrDxAqB
— Trace Mayer (@TraceMayer) February 6, 2018
Against the current
But Giancarlo proved that the prejudice against him was FUD in itself. He began by recognizing the enthusiasm that this new branch of finance inspires by mentioning how his three children suddenly found an interest in Bitcoin after being unmoved by the stock market. “It strikes me that we owe it to this new generation to respect their enthusiasm about virtual currencies with a thoughtful and balanced response, not a dismissive one.” And if that wasn’t enough, he stated that his niece is “a hodler”.
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— Start4me (@4meglobal) February 6, 2018
Giancarlo continued along these lines, saying that Bitcoin is very real when it comes to international trading: “Sixty-six million tons of American soybeans were just handled through a blockchain transaction by the Dreyfus company to China. So Bitcoin is now being used, it’s being used in our American transportation and logistics system,”
No Bitcoin = no blockchain
“I think this distributed ledger technology has enormous potential. Now how it will be realized, when it will be realized are challenges, and those we can’t say,” said Giancarlo. He also dismissed voices calling to embrace blockchain technology, while dismissing Bitcoin. “It’s important to remember that if there were no Bitcoin, there would be no distributed ledger technology,” said Giancarlo when asked about the value of BTC.
I think South Korea would vote CFTC Chairman Giancarlo as 2021 President.https://t.co/2b1v9RvW7i
— Joseph Young (@iamjosephyoung) February 6, 2018
He did pour some rain on the crypto-parade by reminding us that it’s quite a small fragment of the global financial landscape. “We’ve never conducted this much outreach for any other financial product,” he added.
Beyond the amusing community hug, the market responded to Giancarlo’s testimony and the entire discussion with a rebound in coin prices. Almost all coins, as listed on coinmarketcap, are currently in the green. The price of Bitcoin spiked from ~$6,000 at the time the hearing started, to over $8,500 mark at the time of writing. Some coins, like IOTA, Tron and NEO have risen by more than 30% during the last 24 hours.
In this landscape of rather hawkish regulators, it is quite encouraging to see one that keeps an open mind and remembers that his role is not only to protect investors from outside threats and their own decisions, but to also enable and facilitate new technologies and financial tools. Time will tell which approach will prevail.
In today’s Senate hearing the chair of the CFTC, Giancarlo, came across as the guy who learned about virtual currencies from his kids, who think it is cool, while the chair of the SEC, Clayton, is the guy who learned about it from Wall Street lawyers, who think it is silly.
— Nathaniel Popper (@nathanielpopper) February 6, 2018