By: Julia Dempewolf and Chris Chamness
The lawyers in our firm’s blockchain group are meeting today in DC, so it’s a good time to provide a quick update on what’s been happening inside the Beltway recently.
Federal legislators have taken a number of steps to advance the role of blockchain technology in both the public and private sector this month.
These developments show an increased awareness of blockchain technology among members of Congress and the new opportunities for innovation. Recent statements also signal that consumer protection and regulations concerning blockchain technology are being considered.
- Congressional Blockchain Caucus Formed: On September 26, 2016, U.S. House of Representatives Jared Polis (D-CO) and Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) announced the formation of the bipartisan Congressional Blockchain Caucus. According to Rep. Polis, “It’s vital for Americans, businesses, and members of Congress to learn about blockchain so the U.S. can continue to secure its stance as the global leader of ingenuity.” The Caucus intends to “focus on raising awareness, advancing ideas that foster growth, and safeguarding consumers.”
- House Passes Resolution to Promote Blockchain Technology: On September 12, 2016, the U.S. House of Representatives passed House Resolution 835 to express the sense of the House of Representatives that the United State should adopt a national policy for technology to promote consumers’ access to financial tools and online commerce to promote economic growth and consumer empowerment. The Resolution states that “blockchain technology with the appropriate protections has the potential to fundamentally change the manner in which trust and security are established in online transactions through various potential applications in sectors including financial services, payments, health care, energy, property management, and intellectual property management[.]”
- Amendment to Use Blockchain Technology in Veterans Affairs Reform: On September 12, 2016, the House also passed House Resolution 859 to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs. Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) introduced an amendment to the Resolution that would require “the VA to use distributive ledger technology when scheduling healthcare appointments to ensure transparency and accountability.”
- Congressman Urges OCC to Clarify Stance on Blockchain: On September 20, 2016, Rep. Schweikert sent a letter to Comptroller of the Currency Thomas J. Curry in response to statements made by Comptroller Curry and his office, including the OCC’s white paper on “responsible innovation” and the OCC’s recent proposed rule regarding receiverships for uninsured federally chartered national banks. Rep. Schweikert specifically requested information regarding: 1. availability of a limited purpose national charter for digital currency firms; 2. international competitiveness and flexible regulation; and 3. facilitation of relationships between national banks and open blockchain firms
- DC Blockchain Center Established: On September 27, 2016, the Chamber of Digital Commerce and technology incubator 1776 announced the launch of the DC Blockchain Center. The Center intends to serve as an “entrepreneurial resource for technology providers and governments investing and innovating in blockchain-based technologies.”