Could be the beginning of a riddle: Why did a new caucus and an incubator show up on Capitol Hill?
Trick question, no riddle here: In all of about 48 hours, Washington, D.C. showed that America’s capitol has increased interest in blockchain — through the formation of a caucus and an incubator.
Earlier this week, blockchain arrived on Capitol Hill by way of the formation of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus focused on examining and educating lawmakers on the payments technology and issues associated with the digital currency.
The caucus — which is bipartisan — was formed by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) and Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC). This comes after The House recently voted, through a non-binding resolution, to push for the development of cryptocurrencies and related technologies.
“The blockchain has boundless potential. From cryptocurrencies to supply chains to banking to property titling, blockchain-based solutions have the ability to decentralize cybersecurity and revolutionize many industries,” said Rep. Jared Polis in a statement. “It’s vital for Americans, businesses and members of Congress to learn about blockchain technology so the U.S. can continue to secure its stance as the global leader of ingenuity.”
Part of that ingenuity sounds like it could be coming from right down the street.
That’s because, a few days later, the Chamber of Digital Commerce announced a team-up with DC seed fund 1776 to launch the DC Blockchain Center, the first of its kind in the city. The goal is to help regulators and government agencies — local, state, federal, international, you name it — work together on public sector issues related to, well, blockchain.
“We strongly believe that one of the most effective forms of advocacy is for the government to utilize and implement blockchain technology and to experience the benefits firsthand,” said Perianne Boring, founder and president of the Chamber of Digital Commerce.
This comes after Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) introduced a new House bill to keep FinTech companies and innovation stateside. The bill is a direct aim against losing financial innovation to the U.K.’s growing “sandbox” regulatory program.
Many experts and analysts are nodding in agreement with these new initiatives, especially in regards to regulatory issues.
“Blockchain technology, both public and private, are slowly changing the world. Regulation from the world’s leading countries will affect both types of blockchains,” said Caleb Chen, a blockchain expert with London Trust Media.
More banks — American ones — are coming on board. Last week, the Bank of England wasn’t game for all blockchain adoption anytime soon.
But this week, Microsoft and Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML) said they’re coming together to create a blockchain-based financial system, which they intend to sell to other businesses.
The announcement came at Sibos, the annual conference hosted by SWIFT. The collaboration is slated to focus on establishing and testing technology and best practices.
“The largest companies in the world have finally moved past experimenting and researching with blockchain technology to creating business products that can be monetized,” said Chen. “The fact that they are ready for the next step is a huge, and expected, validation of this new technology.”
Investment and business action in the blockchain industry isn’t just coming from stateside businesses.
Blockchain database startup BigchainDB just landed a sweet $3.37 million investment from Earlybird Ventures, Anthemis Group, RWE Ventures, innogy SE and Digital Currency Group. The Series A funding round is slated to go toward expanding the company’s staff and security.
So, what does this mean for blockchain this week and for the future?
“The future of blockchain technology is still unsure,” said Chen. “However, with the biggest names in tech rushing headfirst into the fray, it is safe to say that blockchains will be a part of our future.”