Coinbase-Backed Advocacy Group Enlists Crypto Masses, Raises $2M From 80,000

Stand With Crypto, the campaign that's meant to bombard lawmakers with crypto supporters in their own backyards, says it's off to a fast start (with a lot of help from Coinbase).

AccessTimeIconOct 31, 2023 at 3:00 p.m. UTC

A Coinbase (COIN) effort to drum up a cross-country swell of amateur crypto advocates – the nonprofit Stand With Crypto – has paid off with a surge of more than 100,000 individuals getting involved in the opening weeks, organizers say.

At the group's website, people can easily reach out to policymakers and learn about politicians' crypto views. So far, 80,000 have given money to keep Stand With Crypto rolling, clearing the $2 million mark, said Nick Carr, the organization's chief strategist. Half of that funding is from single donor Brian Armstrong, Coinbase's CEO.

"Our goal is to truly unite and coalesce the crypto grassroots community," Carr said in an interview. He said the group is trying to be a "one-stop shop" for crypto advocacy. He said it's so far been used for more than 16,000 calls and emails to members of Congress.

The donations are meant to help grow the policy-influencing functions of the group's site, including artificial-intelligence-aided outreach to lawmakers and information portals showing where elected officials stand on crypto. The group is also planning more in-person events, Carr said.

While it's billed as a grassroots affair, the group owes its origins to digital assets exchange Coinbase, which is still involved in the effort after the August launch.

"Centralized lobbying is not going to get it done in Washington," said Kara Calvert, head of U.S. policy for Coinbase, in an interview.

The crypto message is more powerful coming from the people local to the districts and states directly to the lawmakers, she said.

"They answer to their voters," she said, not companies like Coinbase.

This is a tumultuous time for crypto policy, because the House of Representatives has driven multiple crypto-oversight bills to the edge of passage, though the Senate is generally more reluctant to take action. Two narrow slivers of digital assets legislation – stablecoin regulation and money-laundering safeguards – have the highest potential to reach the finish line in the near term, according to professional lobbyists.

As in every congressional calendar, it pays to watch the budget bills that need to pass – most notably, the plan for defense spending – to see if crypto legislation gets attached at the 11th hour. At the moment, a House bill on stablecoin regulation has some bipartisan support, and in the aftermath of headlines linking Hamas to crypto donations, legislation stiffening industry money-laundering protections may also have momentum.

Though Stand With Crypto is meant to gather crypto enthusiasts at all levels, the biggest digital asset companies could benefit if the group starts making progress with lawmakers.

"I think broadening that base is something that wasn't happening before and I think all of the crypto companies continue to have a vested interest in this," Calvert said.


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Jesse Hamilton

Jesse Hamilton is CoinDesk's deputy managing editor for global policy and regulation. He doesn't hold any crypto.