The United States is a leader in developing the Internet, in large part, due to its early policy approach to promote innovation. Despite a myriad of transformational benefits that blockchain and digital assets offer for businesses, government, and consumers, the U.S. government has yet to fully embrace a national, comprehensive blockchain strategy. The opportunity to so is rapidly slipping away. Other countries are more enthusiastic in embracing blockchain’s numerous benefits and aggressively focus on creating frameworks conducive to furthering blockchain-based innovations and technologies – so much so that innovators are starting to move to friendlier jurisdictions. It’s time the United States take notice of this growing trend and commit to developing its own frameworks to incentivize the development of blockchain solutions for government and industry.
Affirmative Support from the U.S. Government
While our technological progress is clear, it does not automatically follow that America will maintain its preeminence in the blockchain sector. Already, major industrialized nations are making significant advances in promoting and adopting this technology, making a hard run to be the leaders, and obtain the economic value, of this industry. We must state, clearly and plainly, at the highest levels of government, that blockchain technology offers important progress for business, government, and consumers, and must be nurtured and proactively supported to ensure its success. We predict 2019 to be a pivotal year for blockchain. But will U.S. policymakers catch up and embrace strategic policies that promote blockchain innovation here rather than abroad.
Congress Steps In
We have seen glimmers of this support through Congressman Emmer’s legislation promoting blockchain and digital currencies, Congressman Schweikert’s legislation promoting the potential promise of blockchain, and Congressmen Soto and Budd promoting American competitiveness, among others. These bills, first, need to be reintroduced and passed, and second, need to be acted on.
This call for action extends beyond the U.S. Congress to the Administration to ensure that we realize the commercial and economic benefit of this technology. The U.S. Government needs to indicate its support, both in words and in action, for the development of blockchain solutions.
Lessons from the Internet
To maintain our technological and economic leadership, the United States must invest in its development or risk falling behind to countries whose respective governments are embracing the technology and exploring its benefits. Almost two decades ago, the U.S. Government affirmatively recognized this support for the Internet in “A Framework for Global Electronic Commerce.” That statement recognized that “many businesses and consumers are still wary of conducting extensive business over the Internet because of the lack of a predictable legal environment governing transactions…” The same is absolutely true today. Further, “governments can have a profound effect on the growth of commerce on the Internet. By their actions, they can facilitate electronic trade or inhibit it. Knowing when to act and — at least as important — when not to act, will be crucial to the development of electronic commerce.” They went on to promote a set of principles and policies to set out a roadmap to facilitate growth of commerce on the Internet. We need the same visionary support for blockchain today.