A House Financial Services subcommittee met Wednesday in what was supposed to be an overview of the cryptocurrency landscape. The two-hour hearing raised more questions than answers, and shined a light on some Congress members' deep skepticism around digital currency.
"Cryptocurrencies are a crock," Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) said to kick off his opening remarks. "They allow a few dozen men in my district to sit in their pajamas all day and tell their wives they're going to be millionaires."
Sherman had a litany of concerns. Bitcoin has the ability to help terrorists, criminals, tax evaders and start-up companies looking to commit fraud, he said, adding that bitcoin undercuts the U.S. dollar as a source of the Fed's $50 billion revenue.
The committee was called to discuss initial coin offerings, or ICOs, which are used by companies to raise capital for businesses and products. There have been $2.6 billion ICOs so far this year, according to the latest research from Autonomous Next.
Sherman accused the cryptocurrency community of using the term ICO to "lie to the public and convey the image that is like an IPO."
"They stole the intellectual property and trademark of legitimate investing and applied it to a fixed, fraudulent gambling scheme of no social benefit," Sherman said.