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Swalwell becomes second 2020 candidate to accept cryptocurrency donations

The Hill logo The Hill 5/23/2019 Emily Birnbaum
Eric Swalwell wearing a suit and tie: Swalwell becomes second 2020 candidate to accept cryptocurrency donations © Greg Nash Swalwell becomes second 2020 candidate to accept cryptocurrency donations

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) on Thursday became the second 2020 White House candidate to begin accepting cryptocurrency donations.

Swalwell joins fellow presidential hopeful Andrew Yang, who was dubbed the "bitcoin candidate" after unveiling a digital-asset platform earlier this year.

The California Democrat partnered with blockchain firm The White Company to set up a donation page paid for by his campaign. The page allows supporters to choose between six supported cryptocurrencies to use when donating.

"Blockchain can change the world if we let it," Swalwell said in a video posted to the website. "Is there a risk? Sure. That's why we must test, retest and constantly monitor such systems for interference or abuses by using expert oversight."

"We can do that," he added. "Risk should not scare us. It's a hurdle we can surmount. Government has to keep up with the times and the times have changed."

Swalwell's cryptocurrency push comes as Yang, a tech entrepreneur, has been accepting cryptodonations for nearly a year.

Yang at a conference earlier this month said he believes blockchain "needs to be a big part of our future."

"If I'm in the White House, oh boy are we going to have some fun in terms of the cryptocurrency community," Yang, a long-shot candidate who has been gaining attention among tech-savvy communities, said.

Swalwell has worked on cryptocurrency issues in Congress, and last month sent a letter to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) about tax rules for digital currencies.

In an email on Thursday night, a White Company spokesman asserted that its cryptocurrency solution is "faster and can accept a much wider range of cryptocurrencies" than Yang's campaign.

U.S. regulators have called for a federal framework to oversee bitcoin in the U.S., as the cryptocurrency market is not currently subject to much oversight.

"Cryptocurrencies and digital assets have quickly grown to represent a large amount of value and economic activity," Yang's policy page on cryptocurrency reads. "This quick growth, however, has outstripped the government's response."

"It's time for the federal government to create clear guidelines as to how cryptocurrencies/digital asset markets will be treated and regulated so that investment can proceed with all relevant information," the policy description states.

Both Yang and Swalwell face an uphill battle in the crowded field of two dozen Democratic presidential contenders. Both candidates regularly poll between 0 and 1 percent.

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