Seven members of Congress have sent a letter to the Trump Administration’s Director of the National Economic Council asking for “…a forum on blockchain technology and include blockchain technology in the initiatives the Administration intends to promote on emerging technologies.”
If that sounds slightly ambiguous but still important, that’s because it is. Clear federal level guidance on blockchain technology allows all parties to operate on a clear playing field with more perfect information, thereby increasing efficiency.
The letter was spearheaded by Congressman Trey Hollingsworth (R-IN) with support from six members of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus including Darren Soto (D-FL), Bill Foster (D-IL), Tom Emmer (R-MN), Ted Budd (R-NC), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and David Schweikert (R-AZ). Bipartisan support for better blockchain regulation shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody given the wide-reaching implications of blockchain technology.
Thankfully, party lines haven’t been yet been drawn on the “blockchain issue” the way they have on the “abortion issue” or the “tax issue.” The wide range of politicians that make up the Congressional Blockchain Caucus and make pro-blockchain moves like these on Capitol Hill are a symptom of the inevitability of blockchain technology intermingling with our world in ways we never previously imagined – just like the Internet.
Understandably, governments the world over have an interest in smoothing the chaos that often accompanies disruptive technologies. However, the right way for them to do this would be to have one standard that is applied across the country, as opposed to the piecemeal legislation and opinions that we currently have.
Lobbyists urge the U.S. Government to support blockchain technology lest “we” fall behind
The letter is part of a national plan that the Chamber of Digital Commerce has been pursuing on Capitol Hill. The Chamber’s goal, in their own words, is to urge “the U.S. Government to publicly support the development of blockchain technology in the United States.”
The Chamber has been fighting this fight for five years now and the U.S. government still hasn’t made any substantive moves – and innovation in this industry has understandably fled overseas as a result. Think about all the biggest Bitcoin companies (sans investors), the biggest builders, they have all focused some resources on the larger international field while America figures its stuff out.
Even those blockchain technology companies that are U.S. based make sure to have a significant footprint on other continents or sufficient legal cover from potential changes in regulation.
Federal level guidance is preferable for all players
Another result has been that, finding the lack of federal guidelines, states pass their own laws that affect Bitcoin companies. The results of this hodgepodge regulation has had ups and downs, but mostly downs. Just as everyone suspected, the BitLicense froze out Bitcoin companies from New York State and several years after its inception there have still only been a handful of BitLicenses granted to Bitcoin companies – 19 as of mid-2019. Most of these companies are large, international, and well funded.
In the meantime, the number of digital currency-related companies that simply block and refuse New York IP addresses is orders of magnitude more.
States themselves would benefit from federal guidance on digital currencies and blockchain technology by not wasting time writing, debating, and passing laws that would be automatically superseded by federal law as soon as it appears. Everyone from the companies to the consumers to the regulators would benefit from regulatory clarity surrounding this emerging technology – and that can only be provided at the federal level. Representative Hollingsworth emphasized:
“Innovation is part of this country’s DNA and our efforts to further develop blockchain technology can help our country remain a leader in invention and modernization.”