Despite a hotly contested presidential race, a new consensus among US congress members shows that they need to learn more about bitcoin and blockchain technology before any action is taken.
It is well documented that many lawmakers around the world are unsure of both bitcoin and the blockchain technology that supports it. Even the legitimacy earned in Japan was done so after the Mt. Gox scandal. The result of legal guidelines has been an upsurge in trade for bitcoin in the Japanese market.
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In the United States, Representative Mick Mulvaney, a conservative from South Carolina, and Jared Polis, a Democrat from Colorado recently formed the bipartisan Blockchain Caucus to further the education of members of the US Congress on blockchain technology and how it supports bitcoin. The long-term goal of the caucus – traditionally established to help educate lawmakers on specific issues- was stated by Mulvaney:
“to introduce our colleagues and their staff members to what this technology is so that when they start to hear more and more about it, and they will start to hear more about it, that they have good information as we start to talk about things we can do in terms of government policies. We don’t care what you think about bitcoin – you like it or you don’t like it, the underlying distributed ledger technology is real and its potentials exist far beyond its application in the financial services.”
The Blockchain Caucus is also working closely with the Washington-based Coin Center to make sure that all lawmakers have a clear understanding on how the technologies work with digital currencies and blockchains and the potential issues arising from any legislation meant to regulate them.
All these actions take place in the larger scope of both the new regulations in Japan referenced earlier and the study of blockchains and bitcoin by notable investors like Sir Richard Branson of the UK and billionaire bond manager Bill Gross who runs the $1.5 billion Janus Global Unconstrained Bond Fund. Both Branson and Gross have touted the opportunities for investment via bitcoin for both safety from a traditional financial system and ease of investment in new markets.
In light of the action on the world stage, the Blockchain Caucus is still taking a “wait and see” approach, relying on education rather than action at this time. While it is good to see that governments are recognizing Bitcoin and the technology required to support it, the best news is that there is more legitimacy by this study and it affords the innovators the chance to let the technology and the standards evolve organically.
Mulvaney was quoted as saying, “We don’t need to go first. We just need to make sure we don’t discourage other folks from looking at the technology and its full application.”