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Breakpoint 2023: Political Advocacy From the Pros: What Effective Engagement Looks Like

Discussions from industry experts on the complexities and strategies of crypto advocacy in the US and EU.

The notes below are AI generated and may not be 100% accurate. Watch the video to be sure!


At Breakpoint 2023, a paramount panel featuring leaders in the crypto advocacy space unfolded, offering a glance at how industry experts approach the labyrinthine task of political engagement. Representing their respective organizations with prowess, Greg Xethalis, Marina Markezic, and Miller Whitehouse-Levine provided insightful narratives on the distinctions between advocacy in the U.S. and E.U., articulating the nuances of educating policymakers, lobbying, and the tactics effective for influencing crypto regulatory landscapes. For industry participants and enthusiasts, the event presented actionable guidance on personal engagement, spotlighting the current regulatory challenges and opportunities within the evolving crypto sector.

Key Points:

Understanding the Advocacy Landscape

Greg Xethalis, general counsel at Multicoin Capital, and his colleagues delve into the intricacies of crypto advocacy, dissecting the different approaches necessary for engaging with policymakers in the U.S. and E.U. Through their discussion, we grasp a foundational understanding of the varying levels of complexity and activism needed across different branches of government and institutions. A clear distinction is drawn between the U.S.'s more dramatic landscape and the E.U.'s calmer, yet intricate, regulatory environment, underscoring the importance of timing and cultural insight within advocacy work.

Engaging in the Political Process

The conversation pivots to tangible ways for individuals in the crypto industry to become involved in political advocacy. The speakers emphasize the potential impact of reaching out to local representatives, especially in the U.S., where the legislative process is somewhat isolated from regulatory agencies. They advise against engaging directly with regulators, referencing the risk of potential legal repercussions. Instead, channeling efforts through trade organizations, such as the DeFi Education Fund or the European Crypto Initiative, is recommended, with offers of assistance for those who are interested in taking an active role.

Navigating Through Advocacy in the EU

Marina Markezic outlines the unique nuances of the E.U.'s advocacy ecosystem, including the significance of local organizations and the role of various institutional bodies. She highlights specific examples, like the French regulators' openness to industry feedback, thus exemplifying how European regulatory authorities are welcoming participation. Her insights illustrate the strategic navigation required to influence regulation and the value of cultural connections in broadening dialogue with E.U. representatives.

Facts + Figures

  • Greg Xethalis is the general counsel at Multicoin Capital and teaches FinTech and blockchain law and policy at Duke University School of Law.
  • Marina Markezic is a co-founder and director of the European Crypto Initiative, focusing on advocacy within the E.U.
  • Miller Whitehouse-Levine heads the DeFi Education Fund, which advocates for DeFi in the U.S.
  • The E.U.'s regulatory approach is more consistent and predictable than the U.S.'s 'action movie' style, as described by Markezic.
  • Mika, the markets in crypto assets regulation, is a key focus in the E.U. for crypto regulation.
  • The E.U. commission starts with a technical approach where laws are written by experts in their respective fields.
  • In the U.S., educating Congress is critical as regulations are detailed and proposed rulemakings could hinder DeFi development.
  • Engaging with direct political advocacy in the U.S. is seen as a strategic approach to influencing policy.
  • Advocating through local representatives and organizations is recommended over direct engagement with regulatory agencies.
  • The French regulators actively sought industry feedback on DeFi through position papers, showing a precedent for engagement.

Top quotes

  • "In the US, law starts with politicians... In the EU, it’s a little different." - Greg Xethalis.
  • "You can be very strategic in how you do that [political engagement] and create an environment, gather people at fundraisers, have direct access to talk about those very same things, why it matters." - Greg Xethalis.

Questions Answered

What is Breakpoint 2023 about?

Breakpoint 2023 is a conference that gathered industry experts to discuss the state of political advocacy around cryptocurrency. Focused on how to effectively engage with policymakers, the event featured discussions clarifying the nuances of crypto regulation in the U.S. and E.U. and how industry participants can actively contribute to shaping the regulatory landscape.

How does crypto advocacy differ between the U.S. and E.U.?

In the U.S., crypto advocacy tends to be more action-oriented and high energy, with a focus on educating lawmakers about the technology's importance. In contrast, the E.U. presents a calmer approach, with a predictable regulatory process and technical law writing by experts. Advocacy in the E.U. requires precise timing and cultural understanding to influence the multi-layered institutional discussions effectively.

Why should I be hesitant to directly engage with regulatory agencies?

Direct engagement with regulatory agencies can lead to unintended consequences, such as receiving a subpoena following what one believes was a good faith conversation. It is generally safer to engage with lawmakers or to use trade associations or law firms as intermediaries when dealing with regulatory agencies.

What’s the recommended approach for individuals who want to engage in crypto advocacy?

For individuals looking to engage in crypto advocacy, it’s suggested to reach out to local representatives and to get involved with trade organizations that operate in the political sphere. Direct political engagement through strategic contributions and education is essential. However, it's important to be cautious when dealing with regulatory authorities and consider the guidance from experienced trade associations.

What is Mika, and why is it important for crypto advocacy in the E.U.?

Mika, or the Markets in Crypto Assets Regulation, is a regulatory framework being developed by the E.U. to govern the crypto-asset market. It is significant because it outlines the rules and guidelines that will influence how crypto assets are managed and regulated across the European Union, affecting the industry's trajectory and operational practices.