Fidelity Digital Assets President Tom Jessop has shared his view on the future of bitcoin and cryptocurrency regulation under the Biden administration. He confirms that Fidelity is seeing strong demand for bitcoin from institutional buyers.
Fidelity Digital Assets’ Head Optimistic About the Future of Bitcoin
Jessop explained what he expects in terms of cryptocurrency regulation from the Biden administration in an interview with CNBC last week. Jessop is head of Corporate Business Development for Fidelity Investments and president of Fidelity Digital Assets.
He began by talking about Joe Biden’s pick as the new chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Gary Gensler. Given the MIT blockchain professor’s experience in the space, Jessop said, “I think it paints a more generally constructive attitude, or a picture, in terms of what we might expect going forward.”
The Fidelity Digital Assets head also believes that positive crypto regulations implemented during the Trump administration will continue. “I would note that we saw some fairly interesting and good regulatory developments last year,” he opined. “You look at the OCC and some of the guidance they’ve given banks around access to the asset class or even participating in some of these networks.” The Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), under Brian Brooks, introduced a number of positive regulations for cryptocurrency. However, Brooks recently resigned.
Jessop said that during the previous administration:
We’ve started to see more constructive engagement with the regulators … We think that will persist into the new year just given what we’re seeing in terms of institutional as well as retail demand.
Commenting on Janet Yellen’s recent remarks that cryptocurrencies are mainly used for illicit financing, Jessop admitted that it does worry him. However, he contradicted the new Treasury Secretary by quoting a recent report by blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis which found that crypto crime fell sharply to only 0.34% of all crypto transactions in 2020.
Without dismissing Yellen’s concern, Jessop said, “but I think that there are perhaps other places to look … where this activity [illicit financing] is occurring with greater frequency and in greater size. So, I would not diminish the risk but I think the risk is potentially smaller than people might suggest it to be.” Furthermore, he believes that “it’s diminishing or declining on a year-on-year basis, which again is positive in terms of further development of this ecosystem.”
As for the bitcoin market which has seen significant price movements over the past weeks, the Fidelity Digital Assets president shared:
Our clients, institutions that work with us, have been steady net buyers throughout the entire period and we continue to see strong demand among institutions for access to the asset class. That’s really our perspective on what’s happened recently.
“I think we are in a very different market now than the one we experienced in 2017,” the Fidelity executive said without ruling out the possibility of any future bitcoin price decline. “I think the composition of investor interest has changed dramatically,” he described, emphasizing that we have moved from 2017 which saw “a very retail-driven frenzy” and “now we’re seeing a much broader base of institutional adoption.”
Jessop proceeded by rapidly listing more evidence: “You’re seeing this certainly from service providers like us in our business. You’re seeing this through open interest on futures exchanges. You’re seeing this with Blackrock announcing that a few of their funds will have access to bitcoin futures.” He concluded:
I also think the market is maturing. There’s more liquidity. Volatility is down about 50% from where it was in 2017. So I do believe, we believe, that the composition of this investor base, what’s driving the market higher today, is fundamentally different than what we saw three years ago.
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