Blockchain Association Raises $4M to Grow Its Presence on Capitol Hill

Kraken, Digital Currency Group (DCG) and the Filecoin Foundation participated in the round.

Nov 18, 2021 at 5:07 p.m. UTC
Updated Nov 18, 2021 at 5:17 p.m. UTC

The Blockchain Association, one of the crypto industry’s largest lobbying groups, raised $4 million in new funding.

Crypto exchange Kraken and Digital Currency Group (CoinDesk’s parent company) both contributed $1 million. Filecoin Foundation contributed $2 million with the promise of an additional $2 million donation later, if the Blockchain Association can raise an equivalent amount through outside funding, the group announced Thursday.

The funding round comes as policymakers in Washington, D.C., are weighing a host of potential regulations for the crypto industry, including possible modifications to crypto-focused provisions in the recently passed bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Kristin Smith, the executive director of the Blockchain Association, told CoinDesk the funds would serve to “turbocharge” the organization by giving it the financial flexibility needed to hire additional staff, host more events and function at the same level as lobbying groups for other industries.

Smith said the infrastructure law, which has been hotly debated in the crypto sphere for its inclusion of two provisions that could reshape the industry, was a major catalyst for the donations, along with the ongoing bull market.

“Given that it has been such a wild ride this past year, and that the industry is just exploding, we think that now is the time to mature the lobbying effort in Washington,” Smith said. “We want to grow the Blockchain Association to the level we need to be so that we can go from being reactive to government action to actually proactively moving policies forward.”

The Blockchain Association was founded in 2018 with an operating budget of less than $2 million. Smith told CoinDesk the new injection of funds has allowed the group to hire senior executives for the first time – on Nov. 9, the organization announced that it had added crypto lawyer Jake Chervinsky as its head of policy and Dave Grimaldi as its head of government relations.

Aside from building out its team, Smith said the funding will allow the Blockchain Association to keep working on several key policy issues, including modifying the tax provision in the infrastructure bill, keeping up with Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Gary Gensler’s approach to securities laws and shaping policies on stablecoins and anti-money laundering (AML).

Smith also stressed the importance of ongoing crypto education on Capitol Hill.

“Unlike other issues I’ve worked on in my lobbying career, you can’t just have one meeting and they get it,” Smith told CoinDesk. “It’s a series of conversations we have to have over and over.”

“It needs to be a sustained campaign. You can’t just write a white paper, fly into town, talk with a couple members and fly out. It’s having a constant presence and letting people know that we can be a resource to them,” she said.

Despite the coming battle over the crypto provisions in the infrastructure law and the immense amount of work that lays ahead of the Blockchain Association, Smith believes the group is well positioned to make change on Capitol Hill.

“I’ve never been more optimistic about our chances for success in Washington,” Smith said.

“I feel like we’re finally getting the pieces on the chessboard that we need to win, and I’m really excited about it.”

DISCLOSURE

The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

Cheyenne Ligon is a CoinDesk news reporter with a focus on crypto regulation and policy.