UNITED STATES – SEPTEMBER 7: Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., walks down the House steps after the last … [+] vote of the week on Friday, Sept. 7, 2018. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
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Over the past couple of weeks, multiple members of Congress have felt the need to share their thoughts on Bitcoin and Facebook’s Libra project. Democratic Representative Brad Sherman from California explained why he thinks cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are a threat to the U.S. dollar during a congressional hearing about Libra on Wednesday, and Republican Representative Warren Davidson from Ohio said Facebook should drop their Libra plans and adopt Bitcoin instead during a podcast interview last week.
Republican Representative Patrick McHenry from North Carolina also shared his thoughts on Bitcoin this week during an interview on Laura Shin’s Unchained podcast. Notably, McHenry was one of the multiple members of Congress that recently claimed governments won’t be able to ban Bitcoin.
During his interview with Shin, McHenry made his excitement about cryptocurrencies, and more specifically Bitcoin, quite clear. The congressman stated on more than one occasion that he expects Bitcoin to have tremendous value and utility over the long term.
Libra is Not a Cryptocurrency, But Bitcoin is an Important Project
“I think Libra has opened a lot of new people’s eyes about the value of cryptocurrency,” said McHenry during the interview. “Libra is not cryptocurrency, however. And we need to stop lumping it together with very real, very important projects that are out there like Bitcoin.”
McHenry clarified that he had no intention to bash Facebook or the Libra project with his comments, but for him, it’s incredibly important for the differences between Libra and a much more decentralized project like Bitcoin to be made clear.
“The distinction between a wholly new financial invention like Bitcoin – I think that has enormous long term value,” McHenry added.
The congressman also noted that Bitcoin is still in very early days when compared to other inventions throughout human history, so it’s unclear exactly how the cryptocurrency will be used as it evolves over time.
“In 20 years, what Bitcoin looks like – I don’t have the capacity to predict,” said McHenry. “But I do think it will be of enormous value and utility.”
Should the U.S. Government Develop a Digital Dollar?
According to McHenry, a digital dollar would be a reasonable next step for the Federal Reserve to take in the face of the increasing prevalence of digital payment systems around the world. In his view, the U.S. Government needs to have a much more competitive mindset when it comes to various aspects of government, such as the creation of management of the national currency.
Put more directly, McHenry stated he would like to see a U.S. dollar-based response to Chinese payment systems like Alipay and WeChat Pay. According to McHenry, he’d like to see efforts towards this goal put forth by both the private and public sectors.
“We’re looking into whether or not the Federal Reserve has the capacity currently to issue a digital currency,” said McHenry.
McHenry added he would support legislation to give the Federal Reserve the authority to issue a digital dollar if the central bank does not already have that authority.
Despite this desire for the creation of a digital dollar, McHenry reiterated his belief that Bitcoin would still have a role to play in a world where fiat currencies become digitized.
“I think when you’re talking about a truly decentralized long term store of value and a belief in a system, not a belief in a government or governmental entities, I think true cryptocurrency has enormous value separate and aside from [digitized fiat currencies],” said McHenry.
McHenry is clearly a fan of the innovation brought about by Bitcoin, but he said in a separate interview with CNBC that he currently does not own any amount of the crypto asset.
Although the Bitcoin price has struggled recently, multiple market commentators have pointed to the potential of a perfect storm of bullish factors developing for the cryptocurrency.