What a Biden-Harris White House Means for Cryptocurrencies

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The Biden-Harris transition team includes experts that are no strangers to the world of blockchain and crypto.

Earlier this week, presumptive president-elect Joe Biden released a list detailing the people selected to join the Biden-Harris transition team. 

The presidential transition team has historically been responsible for coordinating and preparing for a transition of power between two administrations. Biden’s transition team will be in charge of developing a comprehensive policy platform to be implemented if the former vice president assumes the presidency. 

While the transition team is expected to focus on the issues the democratic party campaigned on, the Federal Reserve, Banking, and Security Regulators team features prominent financial scholars that have analyzed the cryptocurrency space in detail. 

So, we took a closer look at Biden’s picks for the financial policy transition team to get a clearer picture on the direction policymakers might want to take moving forward.

Gary Gensler

Leading the team is Gary Gensler, a financial policy veteran with roots on Wall Street. Upon his departure from his role as a Goldman Sachs partner, Gensler developed a reputation as a tough regulator in his tenure as chairman of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). 

As a member of MIT’s Digital Currency Initiative, Gensler has lectured graduate students at MIT on the nature of blockchain and its disputed ability to revolutionize the world of finance in a course titled “Blockchain and Money.” His extensive knowledge of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies is further demonstrated through his published research on the topics. 

In a recent interview on Bloomberg Daybreak, Gensler noted “the pure cash cryptocurrencies need [even] more protection than the oil markets or corn or wheat.” He has stated that increased regulation will lead to increased adoption, stating that “you want traffic lights and speed limits because then the public is confident to drive on the roads, in this case the crypto-roads.”

Simon Johnson

Simon Johnson is the Ronald A. Kurtz (1954) Professor of Entrepreneurship at the MIT Sloan School of Management. He once gained the title of “America’s most outspoken critic of the banking industry” for questioning the government’s approach to navigating financial market problems. 

Johnson and Gensler have collaborated previously to teach a graduate course and the duo co-authored a paper on the potential impact of blockchain technology as a “catalyst for change” in the financial sector. 

Johnson has previously commented on the disruptive nature of cryptocurrencies, stating that “well-organized democracies have little to fear from cryptocurrencies… [But] people whose political power is based on controlling information definitely have something new to worry about.” 

Reena Aggarwal

Founding director at Georgetown Center for Financial Markets and Policy and professor at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, Reena Aggarwal’s specializations include FinTech, initial coin offerings, and securities market regulation. 

Aggarwal has previously stated that she believes blockchain has the potential to cultivate improved competitiveness all around the world, leading to an ultimately positive impact. Furthermore, she noted that blockchain technology’s disruptive quality extends beyond the financial sector, encompassing areas of “healthcare, transportation, supply chain, immigration, government contracting and more.”

Currently, Aggarwal is a senior editor of a developing book titled “Digital Assets Pricing, Allocation and Regulation,” in partnership with Ripple’s University Blockchain Research Initiative and in association with the UCL Centre for Blockchain Technologies.

Mehrsa Baradaran

Professor of law at UCI Law, Mehrsa Baradaran has authored multiple works on financial inclusion and wealth inequality. In a testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Community Affairs, Baradaran said that although the traditional banking industry has been susceptible to failure, cryptocurrency is “[not] the best solution to the problems of financial inclusion and equity in banking.” 

Baradaran went on to state that cryptocurrencies were born out of the need to address problems of inefficiency in public policy, and that regulation needed to reflect these developments. 

Lev Menand

Lev Menand is an academic fellow and lecturer at Columbia Law School. Previously, Menand co-authored a proposal that would enable all American citizens to open bank accounts at the Federal Reserve, through FedAccounts, a proposed variation of a Central Bank Digital Currency. 

This year, Menand authored a paper titled “Virtual Currencies and The State,” which called for the regulation of virtual currencies as legal currency. This approach would entail the government treat virtual currency issuers as banks and require them to obtain bank charters to continue operating. 

While the committee may have bigger proverbial fish to fry in the midst of a global health crisis and record unemployment levels, this will mark the first time potential policymakers have histories of publicly acknowledging the strengths of cryptocurrency markets and the way they function. 

If Biden’s picks for the presidential transition teams are any indication of the administration’s future financial reform approach, it is likely that developments in crypto regulation are in the works. 

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