Jim Messina participates in a panel discussion during the Milken Institute’s Annual Global Conference at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on April 29, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California.
Michael Kovac | Getty Images
Jim Messina, the former deputy chief of staff to President Barack Obama, brings important lobbying advice to a London-based cryptocurrency trading platform as the industry prepares for new regulations in the US and the stranger.
The veteran political operative joined Blockchain.com’s board of directors early last year, becoming a key adviser on its government relations and political strategy, Chief Business Officer Lane Kasselman said in an interview with CNBC.
The crypto industry has been step up lobbying around the world with potentially strict regulations on the horizon. The Biden Administration published its framework on potential US crypto regulations earlier this month, including ways that could help combat fraud.
Kasselman described Messina as an essential guide for corporate lobbying and global political efforts. He noted that Messina is not a registered lobbyist, but often advises his team on lobbying strategy.
“You can say we are probably one of the most prolific companies in crypto-related public policy engagement globally, certainly in the US and Western Europe. This is a direct result of Jim and his advice on that front,” Kasselman said. . Messina, who was Obama’s deputy chief of staff, is now the CEO of consulting firm The Messina Group.
Although Messina is not a registered lobbyist, the Messina Group has provided advice on lobbying and other policy matters to Uber, Pillpack, Airbnb, Google, Delta Air Lines and Hutchison Whampoa, according to a client list on its site. website.
Beyond its tenure as adviser to Obama, Messina’s cabinet has also advised powerful government officials, including former British prime ministers Theresa May and David Cameron, as well as Mexican Enrique Peña Nieto, Argentinian Mauricio Macri and Italian Matteo Renzi. Messina tweeted photos of him at the White House as Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama had their official portraits revealed.
Kasselman credits Messina for hiring Ian Mair as Blockchain.com’s US policy manager and Giles Swan to lead its European policy. blockchain.com, which maintains the US headquarters in Miami, was also part of a group of crypto companies that put pressure elements of the Digital Financial Assets Act, which would heighten industry oversight in California, where many US-based crypto firms are based. They “offered amendments and comments” after the bill was introduced, Kasselman said. He said their “main purpose of amendment” was the “implementation period” of the bill.
If signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, the bill will take effect in 2025 and will require businesses, such as digital asset exchanges, to obtain licenses through the Department of Financial Protection and state innovation.
Kasselman also noted that Messina guided them on how best to lobby the European Parliament over its crypto regulation known as the Crypto-Asset Markets Rules.
Kasselman said they had won their last battle with members of parliament and their staff as the EU decided “whether or not it will decide to make non-custodial wallets illegal”, he said. These types of digital wallets, which Blockchain.com promotes on its website, act effectively like an ultra-secure crypto savings account.
“It’s central to our business belief that we should give people control of their assets and protect them from any further potential interference. And Jim really got us thinking ‘what is this argument, what’s going to work in Brussels? What are these members of Parliament concerned about and how do we respond to those concerns? Kasselman said. “And following his advice, after working with heads of state across Europe for years, we’ve come up with, I don’t want to call it a campaign, but kind of an argument that we’re in walked in and met some of the ministers and won.”
Swan, the company’s head of EU policy, met with staff of EU Financial Services Commissioner Mairead McGuinness in May to discuss so-called remittance regulations, according to a disclosure report. McGuiness slammed cryptocurrencies and called digital assets “one of the newest ways to launder money” in a tweet last year.