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While crypto winter has been difficult for most of the sector, Messari CEO Ryan Selkis believes that a bit of austerity is good for the industry and his conference.
Selkis, a veteran of the cryptocurrency sector who entered the field in 2013, has witnessed development with each bear market since it has driven some firms out of business and provided a way for the survivors to expand. This cyclical process has coupled with an evolving regulatory environment, which can reach a boiling point in a bull market.
"Bear markets are wonderful for gathering the appropriate folks in the room," Selkis told Decrypt at the Messari Mainnet conference this week in New York. "We remove any decaying timber."
Selkis noted that multiple officials, including representatives from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ), were included as speakers at this year’s conference and that their presence reflects a growing shift in the crypto space toward regulators collaborating with companies.
“These should be talks,” Selkis stated, referring to the capacity to include regulators. As opposed to the traditional hammer hunting for a nail, most individuals appear to be on the same page regarding generating more constructive solutions.
Selkis conducted a fireside discussion onstage with CFTC Commissioner Caroline Pham, during which the two discussed how regulation might benefit the cryptocurrency business if clearer criteria for firms are produced. The CFTC and Securities and Exchange Commission’s authority is clarified (SEC).
On a second panel, Selkis met with Sanjeev Bhasker, who serves as U.S. Digital Currency Counsel for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Digital Currency Initiative. The panel examined the digital privacy of bitcoin use.
Not for the first time have regulators appeared on the Messari Mainnet. Last year, a representative of the SEC presented Do Kwon, co-founder of Terra Labs, with a subpoena at the top of an escalator as Kwon attended the conference. This year, their presence was scheduled. This subpoena pertained to Mirror, a Terra-based DeFi system that produced synthetic replicas of tradable real-world assets, including equities.
“Whenever you have a gathering like this, the rule of big numbers applies,” Selkis stated. “There will be hundreds of individuals here; some are international; if some are the subject of an inquiry, [a subpoena] might occur on occasion.”
All of this occurred before the collapse of Terra’s UST stablecoin this year, which wiped out billions of dollars in investor money and shook institutions that placed large bets on Terra’s network, such as lenders Celsius and Voyager and the now-defunct crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital.
Selkis feels that regulatory confrontation is inevitable when crypto developers “push the boundaries” of what is feasible. Things break, and people get in trouble; this has been the nature of cryptography from its inception.