As Alex Tapscott put it, 2021 was the year when many governments and lawmakers began to finally wake up to the transformational potential of blockchain technology. Indeed, crypto’s global mainstreaming and growing market capitalization have made it difficult for the agents of power to ignore it and have rendered it a salient economic, social and political issue across many key jurisdictions. By all appearances, we are in for a busy year in crypto regulation and policymaking.
Stablecoins, an asset class that attracted a fair amount of regulatory attention in 2021, will surely remain in the hot seat this year. For most nations, stable-value crypto assets will represent competition to their sovereign digital currencies. For the United States, a key question is whether Congress will come forward with the legislation around stablecoins that the President's Working Group on Financial Markets is calling for.
It will also be exciting to watch how far the crypto industry’s political mobilization and lobbying efforts — something that became a prominent feature of the crypto policy landscape in 2021 — will be able to reach this year. A major test of the sector’s newfound political clout will be the struggle to amend the crypto-related provisions of the recently passed infrastructure bill.
Many industry experts surveyed by Cointelegraph expect major policy advancements to come from the European Union in 2022. The European Commission is currently reviewing the proposed Markets in Crypto-Assets regulation, a wide-reaching framework that is mainly focused on mitigating consumer and financial stability risks associated with the adoption of digital assets. Combined with digital euro trials being well underway, this suggests that the EU could soon articulate its stances on various interconnected parts of the digital asset ecosystem — CBDCs, private stablecoins and decentralized cryptocurrencies — in a more definitive fashion.
Elsewhere in the world, El Salvador maintains the perception that it is all in on Bitcoin (BTC) as a nation-state. One of many points of contention related to this great experiment has been, and will continue to be, the Central American nation’s spat with global financial organizations such as the International Monetary Fund. Speaking of the global watchdogs, it is reasonable to expect that these guardians of the incumbent financial order will start delving deeper into specific sectors of the crypto space, much like the Bank of International Settlements’ recent foray into decentralized finance. The hope is that the resulting alarmist narrative will not become global regulators’ dominant approach to the sprawling domain of DeFi.
The first days of 2022 also brought a reminder that regulatory clarity is not the only way in which politics can massively affect the crypto space. Following days of civil unrest in Kazakhstan — a nation that had climbed to the No. 2 spot in the world’s Bitcoin hash rate rankings following China’s mining ban — the government’s decision to cut off the entire population’s internet access resulted in an unprecedented hash rate drop on the Bitcoin network. The geopolitics of BTC mining, which came into motion last year with China’s abrupt exit, seem poised to continue on the path of volatility.
All in all, this year is shaping up to be a rollercoaster of Bitcoin politics, crypto regulation and digital currency adoption. Let’s buckle up and see what else 2022 has in store.