Mr. Cascarilla said the program was new and small. He and his peers sought to assure lawmakers that they believe in the need for regulation and pointed out that they already have to follow a lot of rules.
Sam Bankman-Fried, the chief of the crypto exchange FTX, noted that his company had recently submitted a proposal to regulators suggesting a “unified joint regime” on crypto for agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Alesia Haas, the chief of Coinbase’s exchange in the United States and the company’s chief financial officer, said that Coinbase was not necessarily calling for the creation of a new regulator but that it sought more regulatory clarity on crypto’s status.
The executives repeatedly criticized Gary Gensler, the chairman of the S.E.C., who has said that many crypto tokens fall under the agency’s purview and should be registered as securities, which would require extra disclosure and compliance costs. Representative Warren Davidson, Republican of Ohio, said crypto law should not be an “interpretive art” and called for new, clear rules.
Experts who watched the hearing said the prospects for swift legislative action were uncertain. Lee Reiners, the executive director of the Global Financial Markets Center at Duke University and formerly of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, said there would be no substantial change in rules until there is a crypto-linked financial crisis that hurts “the proverbial widows and orphans.”
Brett Redfearn, a former director of trading and markets at the S.E.C. who briefly worked for Coinbase this year and is now advising crypto companies, said that “as unlikely as it seems, Congress should act as expeditiously as possible.”
Cryptocurrency is back on the agenda in Congress again next week: Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, has called a hearing on stablecoins. The witness list has not been finalized.
Mr. Brown said in an interview that his hearing would be a “step” toward legislation and that he was “working together” with financial regulators like the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Treasury Department. “I want responsible innovation, and that means rules,” he said.