By Hannah Lang
(Reuters) - Coinbase, the largest U.S. cryptocurrency exchange, is stepping up its grassroots advocacy campaign in a bid to advance legislation that will provide regulatory clarity for the industry, the company said.
A congressional committee in July advanced a crypto bill that would define when a cryptocurrency is a security or a commodity. The industry wants that bill to go to a full vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Coinbase on Tuesday is launching a comprehensive paid media campaign which will include advertisements in Washington, DC and calls-to-action on its own platform urging crypto users to contact their members of Congress to ask them to pass crypto legislation.
Coinbase is also organizing a so-called "fly-in" on Sept. 27 when it will bring executives and developers from about 35 crypto companies to meet staff and lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
“Crypto is just so much bigger than Coinbase, and that I think is what's going to be really powerful about the fly-in," said Kara Calvert, head of U.S. policy at Coinbase.
Coinbase estimates there are 52 million crypto owners in the U.S.
The effort underscores how hard the crypto industry is pushing in Washington as it sees an opportunity to advance legislation that would help rein in the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which has been cracking down on the industry. The regulator is suing Coinbase for allegedly selling unregistered securities, which the company denies.
Coinbase has led industry advocacy efforts in recent years, spending $3.39 million on lobbying in the 2022 election cycle, the most of any crypto company by wide margin, according to OpenSecrets.
Coinbase last month started a non-profit, Stand With Crypto, to advance pro-crypto policy. That group has recently held events in Ohio, Nevada, Georgia and Montana that have "tested the capacity to organize crypto advocates,” Coinbase said in a blog.
(Reporting by Hannah Lang in Washington; editing by Michelle Price and Timothy Gardner)