Welcome to The Ask, where each week you'll hear from essential voices doing the work to make crypto 'mainstream.' Exchange lightly edited.

This week we spoke to Kristin Smith, executive director of the Blockchain Association, a crypto lobbying firm based in Washington, D.C. 

What's the biggest item on the agenda in Washington this year?

Anti-money laundering policy is probably the biggest one we're worried about. Done incorrectly, that could have major effects on the growth of the industry. Securities laws are another issue that always seem to flare up with different enforcement actions. But, you know, there's also some sort of lesser tax policy issues. There is policy related to stablecoins. There are privacy issues. And those are very important in and of themselves, but relative to the anti-money laundering stuff and securities stuff, they have to take a little bit of a backseat, because they're a little bit less of an existential threat.

Are U.S. admins learning more about crypto as we go?

Yes, and I think that tracks with overall understanding by the general public, and also the growth and expansion of new types of crypto networks and the growth in Americans that hold crypto assets, right? From the industry's perspective, the whole point is to replace centralized organizations with decentralized software protocols ... Just that basic understanding of what crypto actually does, that it's more than just this kind of digital-asset that you sell, and trade, but it's actually these networks that perform really complex services — I think that is still lost on those people.

Kristin Smith

Kristin Smith

Has Congress warmed to digital-assets yet?

It's still a challenge, particularly for Congress, because they're spread so thin. There's definitely a small set of energized members that are into crypto. They tend to be more on the Republican side than the Democratic side. But we have a few Democrats that are starting to get interested.

Do you expect regulation efforts to pick up as the market expands?

We're going to have a little bit of time. I don't think they're going to come running out of the gate. Back in 2017, when all of the initial coin offerings (ICOs) were going on, that was a problem, right, because the consumers were being harmed. So, if crypto can stay on good behavior, so to speak, and build things in a responsible way, I think we’ll have time.

Kristin Smith leads D.C. lobbyist Blockchain Association, which shelled out $480,000 on lobbying in 2020, according to OpenSecrets.org. Smith founded the trade group in Sept. 2018. Also on her resume: law firm Thompson Coburn. She's additionally worked for Republican politicians — most recently for Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.). 

Welcome to The Ask, where each week you'll hear from essential voices doing the work to make crypto 'mainstream.' Exchange lightly edited.

This week we spoke to Kristin Smith, executive director of the Blockchain Association, a crypto lobbying firm based in Washington, D.C. 

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