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Crypto Sector Lobbying Set to Make New US Record

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Cryptocurrency firms are reportedly spending record amounts of cash to advance their cause in Washington.

Digital asset companies spent $18.9 million on lobbying during the first three quarters of 2023, Reuters reported Tuesday (Dec. 5), citing data from nonprofit research group OpenSecrets.

That figure was up from $16.1 million in 2022, and in spite of the collapse of FTX, which had been one of the bigger spenders when it came to lobbying. Last year, the report said, FTX and other companies devoted nearly $22 million to lobbying.

According to the report, Coinbase — the largest crypto exchange in America — was also the biggest spending, with $2.16 million going to its lobbying efforts. It was followed by Foris DAX, which operates Crypto.com, the Blockchain Association and Binance Holdings.

“Our goal is to engage directly with policymakers, build relationships and bridge the education gap to build a commonsense regulatory framework,” Kristin Smith, CEO of the Blockchain Association, told Reuters.

The increase in lobbying money comes as crypto companies have been trying to restore their reputations in the wake of a number of scandals. The most high-profile of these began late last with the downfall of FTX, whose founder Sam Bankman-Fried was convicted of fraud and conspiracy last month.

The industry has also faced intensifying scrutiny from federal regulators such as the Securities and Exchange Commission which in June sued Coinbase and Binance in June for securities law violations. Both companies have said they will fight these charges.

In testimony before the House Financial Services Committee in September, SEC Chairman Gary Gensler restated his longtime position that not only are most cryptocurrencies unregistered securities, but most crypto firms doing business in the U.S. are operating outside the bounds of the law.

“Given this industry’s wide-ranging noncompliance with the securities laws, it’s not surprising that we’ve seen many problems in these markets,” Gensler said.

He went on to say that because “most crypto tokens are subject to the securities laws, it follows that most crypto intermediaries have to comply with securities laws as well.”

As PYMNTS wrote at the time, this year has seen the U.S. pass no major crypto legislation, leaving the industry to lobby for clarity from lawmakers.

“This is going to be kind of like our 5G or semiconductor moment where in five years, we’ll be thinking, how do we get this back onshore if we don’t do something now,” Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong said in an interview, adding that 83% of the G-20 countries have “clear rules” for how crypto should be regulated.