Re-Imagining Institutions — Reflections from the 2018 Blockchain Summit in Morocco

Former SEC Commissioner Annette Nazareth told the Blockchain Summit in Morocco today that “there is an understanding among regulators that there’s tremendous opportunity for blockchain.”

Annette Nazareth responds to a question from moderator Tomicah Tillemann.

“They’re talking about how bitcoin and ether are not securities,” Nazareth said during a panel discussion in which global blockchain experts with regulatory and legislative experience focused on re-imagining institutions to take advantage of new technologies. “That’s a very big step.”

Jim Newsome, a former CFTC chair, agreed. “The good news is that we’re headed in the right direction,” Newsome said. Bitcoin or Ether “comprise more than 70 percent of the market cap.”

“But we are still in the early stages of this technology’s development,” he added. “We’re in the first inning of a very long ball game. So we need to be careful not to rush regulators too much. Because typically when you rush regulators, they tend to get it wrong. Continued education is critical — as is some patience with regulators.”

Jason Weinstein, former deputy assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, said the blockchain community has made great progress in educating regulators and lawmakers.

“The level of understanding has gone from kindergarten to college level, judging by the questions we’re getting,” Weinstein said. “People have learned a great deal and are very sophisticated. But there’s no finish line, because as we get more sophisticated, we start to grapple with more and more questions. It’s a constant challenge, but we can never stop engaging them.”

Eva Kaili, a member of the European Parliament, said she is working hard to ensure that Europe adopts a balanced approach to regulation.

“The technology may have some issues because we might over-regulate so we need to be careful,” she said. “The importance of the technology is the value that it carries.”

“We have global issues, and we need global solutions,” Kaili added. “But we don’t have global participation. This is going to be the main application that blockchain can solve. This can give us back some of the trust we are lacking.” She also shared that the EU has announced $350 million in funding for blockchain pilots across the region.

Guy Verhofstadt, a former prime minister of Belgium and current member of the European Parliament, said adopting blockchain and cryptocurrency markets are key to Europe’s economic future. “The European market right now is basically chocolate, beer, champagne and maybe some German cars. We need to develop these digital markets.”

Tomicah Tillemann and Guy Verhofstadt

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