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CEI at Money20/20

I’m here on the Las Vegas Strip at Money20/20, a trade show and forum in the area of FinTech—a term used to describe a cross-section of alternative lending, cryptocurrencies, and new payment technology—that is a pretty big shindig. At around 10,000 attendees, Money20/20 is fast becoming the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) of FinTech. Or as the show’s boosters might say, CEA is becoming the Money20/20 of tech.

Anyways, some big news breaking here, such as JPMorgan Chase’s announcement of a mobile payments system to rival Apple Pay, and MasterCard’s “internet of things” initiative to enable mobile payments through keys, jewelry, and even clothing.

But the real story are the thousands of entrepreneurs here looking demonstrate their products and spread the word through networking. The Exhibit Hall here is really a walk through the future.

And I have had the privilege of a dialogue with these on how Washington red tape is hindering their beneficial innovations. This has been both in individual conversations and in an October 25 panel I was privileged to be a part of.

The panel, called “Dodd-Frank: 5 Years Later,” had some sharp folks on it. My fellow panelists included Tonnie Wybensinger, partner at the Eris Group and a former congressional staffer who was involved in successful regulatory relief efforts such as the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act; Joe Colangelo, executive director of Consumers’ Research, publisher of a decades-old free-market consumer magazine last published by the great journalist and editor M. Stanton Evans; and moderator J.C. Boggs, partner at King & Spalding law firm and former counsel to the Senate Banking Committee.

Here are some excerpts from my presentation. More later:

It's so great being here and seeing the frontiers of innovation. I look forward to attending many of the sessions and meeting all of you.

And boy have things changed in the past year, two years, even the past few months. Was FinTech even a word a year and a half ago?!

And certainly I think we all can agree that things have changed in the past five years in FinTech and most other industry sectors. So the question to ask with any law after five years, but especially one that was rammed through Congress like Dodd-Frank, is not should  the law be changed? But rather why shouldn't it be changed after five years to reflect changes that have gone on in the world.

The Durbin Amendment was intended for debit cards, but now it may be used to clamp down on Apple Pay and other innovations in mobile payments. And unfortunately this example of static rules applying to dynamic technology is the norm rather than the exception in public policy today. Equity crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending in the age of the app are being governed by securities laws written 80 years ago when most homes didn't have telephones

It is often said that the main thing wrong with Washington is that nothing can get done. I have a slightly different view. The biggest problem with Washington is that nothing can get undone. And this dark matter, as my colleague Wayne Crews has called it, or laws and regulations sitting on the books unchanged for decades, is keeping innovators like you from getting many beneficial things done.