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Sen. Warner: Cryptocurrencies could be as transformational as cellphones

Mark Warner (D-VA) argues that crypto and the underlying technology could be as transformational as cell phones. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), who made his multimillion-dollar fortune from the cellphone business, thinks that potential among crypto assets and the underlying technology could be as transformational as wireless.

“I think we may be on top of something that’s transformational, and I don’t think you can separate the underlying, distributed-ledger blockchain from some of these crypto assets,” Warner said during a Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on virtual currencies.

He added that at the current trajectory, the market value of cryptocurrencies could become even more massive in just a couple of years.

“If we had the same rate of increase the next two years that we’ve had the last couple [of] years, we’re talking now a couple hundred billion, we’d be at north of 20 trillion dollars caught up in this area by 2020.”

In fact, this could get so big that it could be similar to the transformation experienced with wireless.

“I remember back, I was lucky enough to get in the cell phone business back in the early 80s and everybody thought it was going to be a small business. And, they were wrong, and I got rich. I think we’re looking at the same kind of transformation about to take place, and we are going to have to wrap our arms around it.”

Presently, there are issues surrounding consumer protection, money laundering, and cybersecurity that need to be addressed. He argued that it’s the reason the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) was created in the first place.

“That this rises potentially to the level of a systemically relevant event.”

Warner noted that one of his concerns is that CFTC may have moved too fast by allowing for futures trading on bitcoin while the SEC has not called for exchange-traded funds (ETFs) yet.

“I’m just worried that we need a much more coordinated effort because I think the potential writ large amongst crypto assets and the underlying blockchain could be as transformational as wireless was years ago. I think we are going to need a much more coordinated effort.”

SEC chairman Jay Clayton and CFTC chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo both testified on Tuesday.

Julia La Roche is a finance reporter at Yahoo FinanceFollow her on Twitter.