The Fluidity Summit on Thursday kicked off New York City’s Blockchain Week, created to position the world’s financial capital as its blockchain capital, too.

One of the recurring themes at the day-long event is the global nature of cryptocurrency innovation.

“I’ve been in venture capital since 1991, and all big waves in the space – except this one – were dominated by the U.S.A.,” said Michael Novogratz, the CEO of Galaxy Investment Partners. “Cryptocurrency is the first wave where most of it isn’t happening here.” He said that a large number of blockchains are based in China.

U.S. blockchain enthusiasts ignore the global nature of cryptocurrencies at their peril.

Novogratz predicted that many of the world’s blockchains will eventually go out of business, while others will merge. Still, the implication from his and other speeches was clear: U.S. blockchain enthusiasts ignore the global nature of cryptocurrencies at their peril.

Jehan Chu, who runs the blockchain-focused venture capital fund Kenetic and co-founded the Bitcoin Association of Hong Kong, emphasized this topic when he discussed “Asia’s Impact on our Digital Future.” Ten out of the 20 top coins are Asian, as are the five top cryptocurrency exchanges, including OKCoin and Huobi. Alibaba and others are developing corporate applications for blockchain, while $3 billion of cryptocurrency is traded daily in Asia. Additionally, Asian countries have some of the “most progressive regulatory stances in the world,” he said, before naming Japan and Singapore as great markets. He said that even Korea is “starting to open up again” and that China too “will open back up and in a big way.”

But the globalization of cryptocurrencies is not just about opportunities around the world, but also about global regulations, as an afternoon panel on the legal landscape discussed. The current debates in the U.S. about how initial coin offerings should be categorized are taking place in other jurisdictions, but “more consensus across jurisdictions” is required, says lawyer Lewis Cohen of Hogan Lovells US in New York.

But here is one area in which the U.S. can take the lead. Ryan Selkis, the CEO of Messari, an open-source database for crypto assets, predicted that, over the next year, “All eyes are on the SEC, because as the SEC goes, the other regulators will follow.” He was referring to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the federal securities market regulator, which has said most ICOs should be considered securities and thus be subject to regulation.

Eileen Guo
Eileen Guo is an independent journalist that covers the intersection of tech, society, and foreign policy. Her work has appeared in The New York Times online, Wired, The Outline, Huffington Post, and NPR. Before transitioning to journalism, she started Afghanistan's first digital media agency, served on the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Social Media, and spoke at events including TEDxBrussels, Techonomy, and Fusion Media's RiseUp conference.