Is cryptocurrency in the USA large enough to become the topic of a presidential debate? Not if you look at the numbers. Less than 8% of the US population (26 million) owns cryptocurrencies, and only another 8% are currently planning to purchase any in the future.
However, while we’re not talking about a tidal wave, it’s certainly starting to make a splash.
The vast majority of Americans have heard of Bitcoin, yet they’re still struggling to understand how cryptocurrencies work. Right now, the number of people who believe that cryptocurrencies are a scam is higher than the number of actual cryptocurrency owners.
Is this enough proof that it’s too early for cryptocurrency in the USA to play an essential role in the agenda of a presidential candidate? Should candidates even start a serious conversation about them? Let’s take a look.
Cryptocurrency in the USA: Money vs reputation
Despite the low adoption rate of cryptocurrencies, companies continue to invest in blockchain technology and digital coins. US fintech companies raised $12.4 billion in funding in 2018. Most of them use blockchain technology and include crypto products in their current offering. Moreover, the crypto job market has been growing quickly, which could be another sign of strength and further development.
So, if there’s money constantly flowing into cryptocurrency in the USA, why aren’t the majority of presidential candidates following it?
It seems that reputation is worth way more votes than a few thousand potential jobs. More than 40% of Americans don’t trust cryptocurrencies. They’re happy with not having bought Bitcoin and don’t plan to buy any in the future. On top of that, one in four Americans believes that digital coins are meant for illegal purchases.
Any pro-cryptocurrency candidate would take a risk by starting a more serious conversation on digital assets.
The issue of political donations in cryptocurrency
While most candidates haven’t yet decided whether they should express an opinion on crypto or not, the government has taken cryptocurrency in the USA seriously enough to create a legal framework for political donations in Bitcoin.
The Federal Election Commission allows politicians to receive cryptocurrency as contributions. And we can learn more about candidates’ attitudes toward crypto from this. For now, only one presidential candidate accepts Bitcoin donations.
Where candidates stand on crypto
Everybody knows Donald Trump’s opinion on cryptocurrencies. The President has made it pretty clear he’s not a fan of Bitcoin and doesn’t consider cryptocurrencies “real money”. His position on digital coins became even more rigid when Facebook announced its intention to launch Libra.
Many presidential candidates rarely or never express opinions on cryptocurrency in the USA. They also don’t accept donations in Bitcoin. Bernie Sanders, for example, never mentions cryptocurrencies.
However, the possibilities of blockchain have generated a series of discussions in the crypto ecosystem regarding the future of cryptocurrency in the USA. According to some enthusiasts, with Sanders in the Oval Office, cryptocurrencies will thrive as most people will use digital coins to counter inflation.
Bernie Sanders is just one example of many candidates that don’t have the knowledge to understand cryptocurrency. Their silence on the topic may be better for the crypto markets than any comment.
Let’s take Massachusetts Democratic Senator and potential presidential contender Elizabeth Warren, for example. In 2018, she said that cryptocurrencies were easy to steal and that ICOs were scams meant to trick small investors. Is she ready to take cryptocurrency more seriously now? That remains to be seen.
Who takes Bitcoin donations?
As expected, Andrew Yang accepts contributions in Bitcoin – not without precautions though. The candidate has expressed his intentions to make blockchain and cryptocurrency a 2020 US election issue more than once. Yang is a tech entrepreneur and a known supporter of cryptocurrencies.
For now, he’s the only presidential candidate who understands blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies and how they could change the way we make payments.
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii) could be the second candidate to accept Bitcoin. Back in 2017, she invested some money in Ethereum and Litecoin at the height of the bull market, but things didn’t go very well. She also endorsed a law that supports blockchain technology.
McAfee makes cryptocurrency the focus of his campaign
Despite Yang’s occasional nod towards Bitcoin, the only other presidential candidate that takes cryptocurrency seriously is John McAfee. The cybersecurity entrepreneur and cryptocurrency influencer runs an almost political anti-campaign. He seems to have no intention of discussing issues like immigration, healthcare, or education. The only purpose of the billionaire seems to be raising awareness on cryptocurrency in the USA.
McAfee believes that blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies have the potential to give people complete control over their finances. He’s ready to enter a political battle just to draw public attention to this issue.
Should presidential candidates start taking cryptocurrency more seriously?
Cryptocurrencies developed as an alternative to the traditional financial and payments system. They challenge the status quo, and they can keep going without consistent government support. However, it’s hard to develop billion-dollar projects on the blockchain without proper laws and regulations in place.
Should presidential candidates open a conversation on cryptocurrency in the USA? Probably. But could they do it? Probably not. Many could end up doing more harm than good, as most of them seem to base their statements on rumours. With some exceptions, like Yang and McAfee, presidential candidates don’t seem interested in learning about crypto from proper sources just yet.