A top federal regulator has become an unlikely hero to the cryptocurrency community, after making optimistic comments about bitcoin and other digital currencies. The libertarian-leaning cryptocurrency community tends to be wary of attention from regulators.

But Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo won over cryptocurrency advocates with his comments at a congressional hearing last week. “It strikes me that we owe it to this new generation to respect their enthusiasm about virtual currencies with a thoughtful and balanced response, not a dismissive one,” Giancarlo told a panel of Senate Banking Committee members on Tuesday.

Giancarlo’s openness to the technology earned him immediate praise on Twitter, where his follower account grew sevenfold in the 24 hours after the hearing. “Chairman Giancarlo……….

welcome to crypto twitter,” tweeted Neeraj Agrawal, who handles communications for cryptocurrency advocacy group Coin Center.  Other prominent cryptocurrency community members called Giancarlo “the goat” — an acronym for “greatest of all time” — and began tweeting the hashtag “#GiancarloForPresident.”  One tweet by Coin Center quoting Giancarlo during the hearing garnered over 6,000 retweets and 11,000 likes. Enthusiasm for the CFTC head grew from tweets praising him into memes depicting him as an ally of cryptocurrencies.  One meme shows Giancarlo’s face superimposed on top of “The Lord of the Rings” character Legolas, offering his support to Bitcoin as an unlikely ally.

Another widely shared meme shows the CFTC head speaking during the meeting with superimposed text that reads “HODL!!!” — cryptocurrency community slang for holding cryptocurrency assets for the long-term despite price drops or uncertainty.  Giancarlo’s optimism comes at a difficult time for the cryptocurrency community, which has seen bitcoin drop from a high of over $19,000 late last year to less than $9,000. The regulator’s opinions on cryptocurrencies could prove critical to their future, with advocates closely watching what action regulators might take on the technology. Read more from thehill.com…

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