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US Rep. Emmer Unsettled by Stifled Crypto Innovation at Congressional Hearing

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At a congressional hearing on digital payments, U.S. Representative Emmer expressed fear over stifled crypto innovation.

In a Jan. 30 congressional hearing on mobile payments, U.S. Representative Tom Emmer fears criticism of digital payment innovation may stifle progress.

Emmer laid out his concerns over regulation smothering innovation: “There’s a whole environment out there of brilliant, genius, young people who are coming up with new ways to transfer value every single day,” he said. “I worry that we’re going to crush that entrepreneurial spirit and that advancement.”

Digital payments hearing

In a meeting of the minds, the Fintech Task Force gathered for a hearing on Jan. 30, called “Is Cash Still King? Reviewing the Rise of Mobile Payments.”

Comprised of a number of U.S. Representatives from the Financial Services Committee, the group exchanged comments with several witnesses on digital payments. Among the witnesses included PayPal Head of Global Public Policy, Usman Ahmed, and the U.S. Faster Payments Council’s Executive Director, Kim Ford.

Cryptocurrency defense

Emmer singled out witness Christina Tetreault, senior policy counsel for Consumer Reports, for his questions, which ultimately became a broader statement in favor of the array of crypto assets available for different use cases.

“Although you only mentioned Libra, which is not itself a cryptocurrency, I would hope that you more fully explored these innovations,” Emmer continued, mentioning “the opportunities that they provide to both built a financial future for individuals, but also to empower individuals to control the value of their own assets, separate from government control.”

Emmer went on to list numerous crypto assets, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, XRP, EOS, Monero and Zcash, pointing out different uses for each.

Tetrault’s thoughts on regulation

Speaking to Cointelegraph after the hearing, Tetrault — herself an attorney — felt that the line of questioning missed her expertise: "I'm not familiar with all of close to 2,000 coins that are out there, so I was disappointed to not be able to focus on some of the legal questions that are out there."

Tetrault was, however, interested in seeing more engagement between regulators and crypto, explaining that:

“There are really smart people working on how to normalize the approach to various types of cryptocurrencies, digital assets, and then the non-financial use of blockchain. Because right now, agreed, it’s a complete mess. With the lack of an agreed-upon terminology it’s very difficult to come up with a sound regulatory approach that gets to the issues that, as a consumer advocate, I’m most worried about, which is, is your money safe and if something goes wrong, can you get it back.”

In total, the hearing lasted almost two hours, covering numerous topics and concerns between the parties present.

Cointelegraph editor Kollen Post contributed reporting to this article.

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