Crypto currency

US is ‘unquestionably’ behind the curve on crypto ETFs, says Brian Brooks

Bitfury CEO and former Acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian Brooks has hinted the regulatory environment in the United States could drive many crypto firms outside the country, and has already stymied companies attempting to offer a variety of financial products.

Speaking at a Wednesday hearing on Digital Assets and the Future of Finance with the House Committee on Financial Services, congressperson Ted Budd said he feared the current policy of regulation by enforcement in the U.S. could “force the next generation of financial tech to be created outside of our country.” Speaking on behalf of Bitfury, Brooks said:

“There are some products that are legal in other countries and are just not legal here,” said Brooks. “One of the things that makes crypto risky is that consumers may not understand the difference between one token and another token, so they may want to diversify […] we don’t allow that in the United States — we do allow it in Canada, we allow it in Germany, Singapore, Portugal and a number of other places.” He added:

“If you’re a developer of [exchange-traded funds], there’s no fuzzy line, it’s super clear: You cannot do that here, so you have to go abroad.”

Bitfury CEO Brian Brooks addressing the House Committee on Financial Services on Wednesday

Brooks placed the lack of exchange-traded funds, or ETFs, in the U.S. on the Securities and Exchange Commission. Though the regulator has recently approved ETFs with exposure to Bitcoin (BTC) futures from investment managers ProShares and Valkyrie, it has yet to give the green light for BTC or other crypto ETFs. In contrast, many U.S. companies with operations in Canada have successfully applied with local regulators for ETFs with direct exposure to crypto. 

Related: More than 40 digital currency ETFs await US regulatory approval

However, the former OCC head suggested the lack of approval of crypto investment products was more of a result of the United States’ “fragmented approach to regulation,” given the number of bodies overseeing banks, finance and now digital assets. Brooks proposed a solution in which traditional financial institutions would be treated in much the same way as crypto.

“When I hear people talk about the idea that we need one regulator for crypto, I would say we should first have one regulator for banks, but we have three of them,” said Brooks. “The last thing we need to do is add another regulator to a system that’s already got dozens of regulators.

“If I’m a crypto lending platform, I should probably be regulated by the FDIC. If I’m a crypto trading platform, I should probably be regulated by the CFTC and SEC, but somehow we treat crypto, because it’s new, as different than everything else. I’m gonna argue that crypto is just a step function improvement in the system.”

CEOs from Circle, FTX, Bitfury, Paxos, Stellar Development Foundation and Coinbase Inc. are currently fielding questions from U.S. lawmakers on the state of digital assets in the country. Cointelegraph reported earlier on Wednesday that House representatives have expressed concerns over token projects exerting centralized control over many users’ assets.