There is a new player in this digital age in a world where money is God – cryptocurrency. What exactly is cryptocurrency? Why is it rising at an incredible pace? And what is its economic impact on the United States?
Cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency that is secured by cryptography. One of the major reasons people are shifting to this type of currency is how secure cryptocurrency is. Cryptocurrency is nearly impossible to counterfeit or double-spend, making it more appealing to the public than credit cards or dollar bills. The first cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, started in 2009. With its humble beginnings of 1 USD equals 1,309.03 Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency culture slowly boomed and reached its peak of 1 bitcoin equals more than 40,000 USD today.
With cryptocurrency a game changer today, the US Congress is slowly trying to figure out the best way to legislate the use and exchange of cryptocurrency. Currently, the US Congress is taking a shot at crypto and perceiving it as an investment opportunity. As of February 17, 2021, eight lawmakers and their immediate family members have traded cryptocurrencies in the past year, with best ranging from $1000 to $100,000. From the US congress lawmakers, there are seven Republicans who bought or sold crypto and only one Democrat who also participated in the use of cryptocurrency. Among the seven republicans, Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania stands out.
Among the different types of cryptocurrency, Bitcoin remains the most popular choice among US lawmakers with trades averaging $229,000. The second cryptocurrency choice? It’s Ether, with transactions averaging at $40,000. And who knew that the US congress followed all things trendy because, according to a study by CNBC, the lawmakers also dabbled with the meme coin trend, trading around $32,000 of dogecoin. The US Congress also invested in other lesser-known cryptocurrencies such as Cardano, Stellar, Chainlink, Basic Attention Token, and EOS.
But even though the use and trade of cryptocurrency are proving to be a prolific hobby for the US Congress, there still remains the question of Ethics – specifically, conflict of interest. With the rise of cryptocurrency, US lawmakers do have a say on what policies they can create to legislate the use and trade of cryptocurrency. But with a handful of them using (and benefitting from) cryptocurrency, there is an issue of conflict of interest because they might create laws or vote for laws that would favor their personal use of said digital currency. Today, the US congress investing cryptocurrency stand is still a gray area. Currently, no law prevents lawmakers from investing in cryptocurrency. However, Senator Sherrod Brown introduced legislation prohibiting stock trading among the members of Congress. Her take is that cryptocurrency works differently than traditional investment options. This was met by backlash with Senator Toomey, who argued that existing law mandates financial disclosures amongst the members of Congress, which includes any investments in cryptocurrency.
While there is no clear direction on whether members of the US congress can participate in any use or trade of cryptocurrency, there is no denying that cryptocurrency is the future of money.