Got your skis on? If not, clip in and try to have some fun because this is going to be our very last crypto winter. We’ve had two or three, depending on how you count and this one has certainly been the worst and the most frustrating, but fortunately, it’s going to be the final one and let me explain why: Crypto and blockchain are on the cusp of becoming ordinary, regulated businesses. While it’s always extremely difficult to separate signals from noise, I see three big positive signs for the future.
Surge in enforcement actions by law enforcement
The world of crypto and blockchain has always had an uncomfortable relationship between starry-eyed do-gooders (count me among that crowd) and ruthless opportunists trying to hijack that message to sell whatever they’ve come up with. One of things that has been immensely frustrating over the years is seeing the warnings we and others have made about the dangerous, speculative and downright absurd nature of some crypto and blockchain investments go unheeded. We (EY) warned about the abysmal track record of initial coin offerings (ICO) in 2018 and again in 2019 and we were hardly alone in expressing our concerns. Enforcement actions are much more effective than warnings and social-media flame-wars.
Contradictions and inconsistencies in public policies
Many countries, the U.S. first and foremost, have complex and decentralized regulatory systems. If we can’t get everyone in the world of blockchain to agree upon what policies should be, we should not be surprised that regulators are not fully and immediately in agreement either. What is useful is that the legal system must try to make some consistent sense of how the law is applied. In those cases, regulators must present a clear and consistent opinion of what the law means. This clarity will take some time to emerge, but it is coming.