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Crypto Regs are Top of Mind As Grad Student Prepares to Enter Blockchain Industry

In this podcast, Blockchain Journal editor-in-chief David Berlind interviews Oumayma El Adaoui, a graduate student at Boston University studying banking and financial law with a focus on cryptocurrency regulation. El Adaoui is a part of the first generation of students to enter the workforce who are university-schooled in the many aspects of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency. Given that students often have a very different and fresh perspective on various subjects, David hoped to get her point of view – particularly given her legal ambitions and Moroccan background – on the many issues surrounding cryptocurrency regulation and international blockchain industry competition.

Responding to David's questions, El Adaoui offered her insights on the current state of blockchain and crypto regulation, emphasizing the urgency for the US to enact clear regulatory frameworks to avoid falling behind other countries, such as the European Union, which is making significant strides in this regard. Despite not being a US citizen herself, Oumayma stressed the importance of US leadership in shaping global regulatory standards for the crypto industry.

The conversation delves into the complexities of navigating diverse regulatory landscapes across different jurisdictions, highlighting the need for legal expertise in interpreting and complying with various and sometimes conflicting international regulations.

El Adaoui also discusses her intention to pursue a career in the legal or compliance aspects of crypto, driven by her fascination with interpreting evolving regulations in a field marked by ambiguity. The interview concludes with David Berlind acknowledging the critical role of legal professionals like her in navigating the intricate regulatory environment of the crypto space, underscoring the importance of ongoing discussions and initiatives within the blockchain community.




By David Berlind

Published:February 28, 2024

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7 min read

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Anti-Money Laundering



Audio-Only Podcast

Full-text transcript of David Berlind's Interview with Boston University Graduate Student Oumayma El Adaoui

David Berlind: Today is February 16th, 2024. I'm David Berlind. This is the Blockchain Journal podcast. I'm coming to you from a special Boston Blockchain Association event being held at Suffolk University in Boston. We've seen a couple [of] presentations here about Blockchain, a lot of students that are mulling around and one of those students that is here with me right now is Oumayma El Adaoui. And so, Oumayma, thank you very much for joining me on the Blockchain Journal podcast.

Oumayma El Adaoui: Hi, David. Nice to be here. [It's] such an interesting panel and event. The Boston Blockchain Association always has great events, and this series particularly that aims to connect students with businesses is particularly interesting. So I'm very happy to be here. Thank you.

Berlind: Yeah. Yeah, It's great to have you. And thank you for coming on the podcast. What I'm hoping to do is get some of that student perspective. I mean, I'm out there in the world. Blockchain Journal is all about blockchain and the enterprise. I talk to a lot of people who are literally practitioners of that, but I don't get to talk to a lot of students. And students are the ones who are coming up next. They're the ones who are going to go to work in those enterprises and maybe say, "Hey, you should be thinking about blockchain for this or that." So what is it that you're doing? Well, first of all, where are you a student? Are you a student here at Suffolk University or somewhere else?

El Adaoui: No. So, I'm a student at Boston University. I'm doing a graduate program in banking and financial law, and we have a class, actually, about the crypto regulation and taxation this semester. So, yeah.

Berlind: So you're... ok. You're studying one of my favorite topics because, in the US, we're pretty much log-jammed in Washington, DC, when it comes to crypto regulation. And one of the problems with that, by the way, is, that – maybe you heard in some of those sessions – there's a lot of discussion about the difference between blockchain and crypto, and one of the issues is that all of the regulation that's log jammed in Washington, DC around crypto is also holding up innovation with blockchain because the two, at least for now, are somewhat inextricably linked when they should not be. They're actually two separate things. Blockchain is the platform; crypto is just one application. So, what's your perspective? You're in a classroom; you're studying regulation around blockchain and crypto. What are you hearing, and what do you think about it?

El Adaoui: I think Congress should move, and it should move fast; otherwise, the US is going to get left behind in the crypto game. Europe, in comparison, is moving very fast with the MiCA Regulation (Markets in Crypto-Assets Regulation), whereas here in the US, we have two bills. We have one on stablecoins and one that's related to AML (Anti-Money Laundering), but we still haven't seen anything for now.

Berlind: Well, where are you from? Let's talk about... You're obviously not from the US, so where are you from?

El Adaoui: So, I'm from Morocco, but I left Morocco when I was 18 and went to France to pursue legal studies there in France. So...

Berlind: Okay, so you're doing legal studies? And, I mean, you just mentioned, well, that, you know, the US basically has to get off its butt and do something, or it's going to be left behind. But why do you even care? You're not... Are you a US citizen?

El Adaoui: I am not, no. But the US usually leads the way, and a lot of countries take example [from] the US. So, if the US has a clear and favorable regulatory framework for crypto, that's going to push other countries to move as well and put in place regulation[s] and around...

Berlind: But, in your class, are they talking about, well, "Hey, maybe this is the time for a change. Maybe now the US is, sort of, a slow mover on a new technology. There's an opportunity here for other countries to take the lead." Maybe that traditional power that the US had when it came to new technologies is kind of coming to an end. And maybe it's time for somebody else, Switzerland, or France, or the UK that... Germany has some pretty pro-crypto laws. And maybe another question is, are you going to go to work here in the US, where companies are sort of stifled from innovating? Or are you going to want to go to work doing some kind of blockchain work in a company in Europe where they have a little more freedom to innovate?

El Adaoui: I think more... Most jobs are remote nowadays, so a... as a...

Berlind: It doesn't matter where you are.

El Adaoui: For the second question... It doesn't matter. Like you can be a... literally anywhere in the world and you could still work on crypto. And with regards to your first question, I think crypto has a lot of of potential, a lot of use cases. So there is space for literally everyone, like, there is no competition between countries, and there is opportunities basically for everyone, so...

Berlind: And is that your intent when you get done with school are you going to go out and try to find some kind of work in the crypto space?

El Adaoui: Yeah, I am. Actually, I graduate in May, and I'm currently looking for opportunities, whether in legal or in the compliance space, so yeah.

Berlind: What is it about the legal that interests you?

El Adaoui: So, I like to look into regulations. I like [it] when the regulations are not clear and be able to interpret them. That's what I think is exciting about the... yeah... about the legal aspects of crypto.

Berlind: Yeah.

El Adaoui: And you don't always find the answer in the law,s so you need to be a little bit creative... and yeah, that's what I like.

Berlind: Yeah, so, one thing that's particularly difficult, maybe that's an area that you can speak about, is all of the different regulations. If I go from one jurisdiction to the next, even within the US, from one state to the next, the laws, the regulations, even...

El Adaoui: You have to maintain, like, licenses in every state, 50-plus state[s]. I don't know how they do it. It's a lot, yeah. Yeah.

Berlind: And then you have all the countries. Like, every country has a different... yeah... I mean, I understand, you have the MiCA laws that cover the European Union, but then within the European Union, you've got different countries that have their own laws. The UK has its own laws. Germany has its own laws. Morocco is... Luxembourg...

El Adaoui: Morocco is still working on its law around crypto. So I actually... When I was back home, [I] worked a little bit on that. I did a little benchmark of all the existing regulation, and in order to draft a bill in Morocco to regulate crypto assets, but it's still a gray area.

Berlind: But at least they're moving. You know, like, that's a problem here in the US is they're not moving. But what I'm getting at is, how do you even...? How do you even possibly...? How can one person possibly keep track of all of that regulatory activity? It seems nearly impossible.

El Adaoui: That's why you need lawyers, David. That's why you need to hire more people like me.

Berlind: And so you're going to be a lawyer?

El Adaoui: Yes. Yes, I am.

Berlind: Okay. Well, Oumayma, thank you very much for joining us on the Blockchain Journal podcast.

El Adaoui: Thank you so much David. It was nice to talk to you.

Berlind: I wish you the best of luck in whatever you do.

El Adaoui: Thank you.

Berlind: So, thank you very much for joining us on the Blockchain Journal podcast. For more videos like this one, just go to the Blockchain Journal channel on YouTube go to blockchainjournal.com. You'll find all of our videos there as well as the full-text transcripts of them. And, you know, if you don't like to watch video, if you like to hear these when you're driving to work or something like that, we're on all of the different podcast services like Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

Thanks for joining us. We'll see you at the next video.

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