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On Tuesday, June 29, Axios technology and business reporter Kia Kokalitcheva and business editor Dan Primack explored investor confidence in new forms of digital currency and the shift toward a more standardized and regulated future, featuring Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.) and Grayscale Investments CEO Michael Sonnenshein.

Rep. Foster discussed how lawmakers are approaching cryptocurrency and the balance between innovation and responsible regulation.

  • On big questions in cryptocurrency policy: "For crypto assets generally, there are two big policy questions you have to grapple with from the very start: the first thing is whether or not they will be anonymous or not, whether you will allow anonymous participation or not."
  • On finding a middle ground between anonymity and regulation: "I think that that common ground is third-party anonymity where you can transact crypto assets anonymously under normal circumstances and 99.9% of the time, the blockchain will determine who gets paid what. But in those rare instances where something fraudulent, criminal, or mistaken has happened, that you have to be able to unmask and potentially reverse those transactions."

Michael Sonnenshein unpacked how the digital asset industry has evolved in recent years and the relationship with regulatory bodies as it becomes increasingly mainstream.

  • On how the investing landscape has changed for cryptocurrency: "Investors are coming to the table with questions around digital currencies or protocols. They're looking at how certain upgrades to some of these networks may affect their investment, what some of the use cases may be."
  • On the importance of engaging with regulatory bodies: "[Cryptocurrency] is moving very, very quickly. So we can only imagine how difficult it may be from a regulatory perspective to keep up with how fast things are changing."

Axios Vice President of Finance & Accounting Abby Clawson hosted a View from the Top Segment with CoinFlip CEO Ben Weiss who discussed the importance of policymakers and industry leaders working together to create a regulatory framework that prioritizes consumer protection.

  • "The industry is getting more and more institutionalized. That's why companies like Fidelity, Square, eToro, they're all getting into cryptocurrency and blockchain. They see the potential with just with Bitcoin, but also blockchain to solve supply chain issues...I think that's why it's key that the industry that lawmakers that we all sit down and get everyone to the table because I think everyone wants the same thing."

Thank you CoinFlip for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

Facebook admits "trust deficit" as it looks to launch digital wallet

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Facebook says it's finally ready to launch its most ambitious new product in years: a digital wallet called Novi. But the man leading the charge says Washington could stand in its way.

Why it matters: Facebook needs to convince regulators skeptical of its power that it's a good idea. "If there's one thing we need, it's the benefit of the doubt," Facebook's David Marcus said in an interview with Axios. "[W]e're starting with a trust deficit that we need to compensate."

El Salvador buys 400 bitcoin ahead of making it legal currency

President Nayib Bukele in the Legislative Assembly building in San Salvador, El Salvador, in June. Photo: Camilo Freedman/Bloomberg via Getty Images

El Salvador bought its first 400 bitcoins on Monday, and President Nayib Bukele pledged to buy "a lot more" ahead of adopting the cryptocurrency as legal tender.

Why it matters: El Salvador will become on Tuesday the first country to formally adopt bitcoin — marking the "biggest test" the digital currency has faced in its 12-year history, per Bloomberg.

2020 was the deadliest year for environmental defenders

Engineer Sandra Cuéllar is one of many Colombians who've gone missing or been killed for their environmental activism. Photo: Luis Robayo/AFP via Getty Images

Latin America and the Caribbean is the deadliest region for environmental defenders, a violent record that has global repercussions.

Why it matters: The region has several of the most biodiverse areas of the planet, but they are constantly threatened by logging, mining or aquifer overexploitation.