Let’s fight for blockchain like Wyoming has
Just down the road from America’s smallest town, in a makeshift town hall where the power flickers on and off, the Wyoming Senate and House of Representatives just unanimously green-lighted America’s most progressive blockchain legislation ever. Once again, the state that first allowed women to vote and established the LLC business structure, Wyoming is leading the charge for innovation and opportunity.
Just days before the hearing, I sat in a San Francisco loft with other blockchain founders discussing how we can best aid this evolving industry. The questions we always ask ourselves are: How can America catch up and compete in this global market? How can consumers be better protected? The answer for us is the thoughtful and thorough private/public partnership happening in Wyoming.
In Wyoming, the community, government, and business has aligned to move forward asking tough questions, create real policy frameworks and make big leaps to embrace the rapidly evolving blockchain ecosystem for the betterment of all. There are multiple legislative measures working their way through Wyoming’s legislature related to defining token businesses and products, leveraging distributed ledger technology to make government more efficient, and creating frameworks for the next great businesses. The outcome will be clarity for business, protection for consumers, and economic growth for all.
Leading this charge is the Wyoming Blockchain Coalition. The Coalition is an amazing group of 20+ volunteers who have pledged their time and services to keep Wyoming innovating.
The Coalition’s work is nothing short of world changing. It was my pleasure to spend an amazing 48 hours in Wyoming helping the cause. It started with introductions from the local community. Volunteers like myself had unprecedented personal interactions with dozens of Wyoming State Senators and Members of the Wyoming House of Representatives. Without exception, we found them to be genuinely interested and receptive to information and perspective. During an economic review conference, the Coalition hosted a panel featuring University of Wyoming professors, blockchain professionals, students, and blockchain / tech founders from over America. It was a humorous honor to be labeled “the Representative from Silicon Valley.” and answer politician’s questions about blockchain.
Later that evening, the Coalition offered a gathering for all legislators. I’ve never seen this many government decision makers in one place, and the excitement in the room was ever-present. No paid lobbyists to be found, just real people sharing their visions. Even more amazing — the Wyoming political process is one where citizens still have direct access to their politicians — and are motivated to mobilize. The Governor, Members of the House and State Senators watched a wonderful presentation by Caitlin Long from the Wyoming Blockchain Coalition. She broke down blockchain, distributed ledger technology, and more with familiar metaphors for all.
“Imagine a Google doc, where everyone edits together in real time,” she explained, “but the problem is that Google can see all that data, (and) a lot of companies and people don’t like that. The blockchain is like that Google doc, but without Google.”
As a Wyoming native, she explained this technology in a way everyone could get behind. Following the formal presentation, volunteers like me, from all over the industry wore “Ask Me” name tags, making ourselves available to discuss the technology, policies, our business plans, and the best and worst scenarios.
Wyoming’s beautiful Capitol building is under renovation so the legislature met at a makeshift Capitol in a mall-like building that could have been in any town in America. Legislators, citizens and volunteers spent the day meeting and discussing the issues. The top questions were:
- How is blockchain different than bitcoin?
- How will this help the state’s economy?
- How do crypto miners consume electricity different than other customers?
(Fun fact: Wyoming has some of the county’s best electricity prices and plenty of land!)
Finally it was time for legislators to put pen to paper. As we peered into the hall to watch the combined efforts of citizens, volunteers, and legislators, we got a unanimous vote on these first motions. There is still a lot of work to do to get these laws passed, but we are well on our way. Wyoming still needs your support.
Those familiar with the blockchain know just how vital and requested such policy guidance is for the emerging field. Blockchain technology is a global phenomenon. American entrepreneurs compete with companies around the world. Like we saw in the 90’s with the internet, there is a boom about to happen — and this next generation of companies are being built on the blockchain. Imagine the loss of opportunity because the next giants are abroad. While is already happening as the world embraces blockchain startups, Wyoming provides hope.
Blockchain is a fundamental and radical shift in technology that doesn’t easily fit into pre-existing categories of software, product, security, commodity, etc. We need to protect the public from bad actors while also paving the way for genuine innovation and opportunity. If we make the wrong regulatory moves that unnecessarily discourage innovation, it could have long-lasting, negative impact on American business’ ability to compete globally.
Thank you Wyoming for leading the way. Wyoming needs your help too, let’s all help them. Building on their example, I pledge to continue reaching out to our representatives in local, state and national government to let them know that I support these initiatives on the blockchain. I hope you do the same.