Commentary: Regulatory uncertainty is stifling a breakthrough technology — blockchain

By: Amyli McDaniel
April 5, 2024

In the fast-evolving landscape of digital innovation, few technologies hold as much promise and potential for transformative change as blockchain and cryptocurrency. Yet, despite their growing popularity and widespread adoption, digital assets remain in a regulatory gray area, stifling innovation and economic growth.

As the CEO of MINTangible, a Virginia-based blockchain company, I am deeply invested in the future of this technology and its impact on our economy. It’s time for Virginia to step up and embrace blockchain with clear and supportive regulations.

At present, the United States lags other global players in providing a conducive regulatory environment for blockchain and cryptocurrency. While countries across Europe and Asia have already implemented clear rules, our lawmakers remain hesitant, causing many businesses in the sector to consider relocating or pausing their innovative ideas altogether. This hesitancy not only hampers innovation, but also jeopardizes our competitiveness on the global stage.

One of the main reasons for this regulatory uncertainty is the lack of understanding among policymakers about blockchain and its potential applications. In a nutshell, blockchain is like a digital shared notebook that’s kept in many copies across a network of many people. Every time someone writes a new entry — like a transaction or an agreement — everyone involved confirms it matches their records. Once everyone agrees, only then do they each update their copy with the new entry. And once completed, it cannot be erased or changed. This creates a secure and transparent way of recording and verifying information without risk of a single point of failure such as needing to rely on a central authority.

The most discussed application for this technology is banking. To put it simply, instead of relying on the central authority of a bank to verify transactions, blockchain ensures that a network of many computers agree on the validity of transactions and creates a permanent record, improving trust and security. Transactions can also happen almost instantly because there aren’t any intermediaries, reducing costs and delays.

However, regulating blockchain requires a nuanced approach because it doesn’t only apply to banking. In the case of MINTangible, we are pioneering the use of blockchain to revolutionize the intellectual property landscape. Blockchain’s intrinsic features — decentralization, cryptography, verified credentialing and immutability — enable us to create an unparalleled and efficient system of trust for IP licensing and management. The result is a system that not only enhances the value and security of intellectual property but unlocks positive and inclusive economic opportunity.

Just as the early internet required tailored regulations to foster its growth, blockchain demands regulations that acknowledge its unique characteristics and potential across a broad range of applications. Moreover, overregulation runs the risk of stifling innovation and driving businesses away. As a CEO in the blockchain industry, I’ve witnessed firsthand how regulatory uncertainty hampers investment and stifles growth with entrepreneurs not even considering blockchain because the rules may change tomorrow.

Virginia has already taken some positive steps toward regulating blockchain and cryptocurrency. The establishment of a joint subcommittee to study blockchain integration and the passage of legislation allowing state banks to offer crypto custody services are promising developments. However, there is still much work to be done.

It’s essential that we engage in open dialogue between government and industry stakeholders to ensure that regulations are effective and responsive to the needs of businesses and consumers alike. By working together, we can create a regulatory environment that fosters innovation while protecting consumers and investors.

The time is now for Virginia to embrace blockchain and cryptocurrency with supportive regulations. As a CEO and entrepreneur in this space, I am committed to driving innovation and economic growth in our state. Let’s seize this opportunity to lead the way in the digital economy and ensure a prosperous future for all Virginians.

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