Why Every Member of Congress Just Received Bitcoin

Op-Ed by Perianne Boring, Founder & President, Chamber of Digital Commerce

Learning by doing is the most effective way to learn something new, especially when it comes to technology. Our brains respond and adapt through experiential learning. Think of the first time you sent an instant message, made your first call on a mobile phone, downloaded your first app on a smart phone, or set up your first social media account. Receiving your first cryptocurrency is a teachable moment. 

Many Americans have already experienced their first digital currency transaction and are rapidly embracing the technology.  According to a study by Coin Metrics, 15% of all American adults – and 27% of Millennials – own some form of cryptocurrency. In addition, more than 33%. of small and medium-size businesses in America are now accepting cryptocurrencies as payment for goods and services.

Since Bitcoin’s inception in 2009, the idea and promise of blockchain technology has seized the imagination of engineers, scientists and technologists around the world. These nascent and evolving innovations offer immense possibilities for business, government, and consumers. The United States has a unique opportunity to catalyze rapid economic growth, while fostering and encouraging innovation towards a new digital economy for the whole world to use.

Elected officials alike must understand that the United States’ technical preeminence is at risk if we fail to acknowledge the role blockchain technology will play in the global economy for many generations to come, similar to the Internet. Technology providers estimate that 10 percent of global GDP will likely be stored on blockchain technology by 2025 to 2027.     

Education is the first step we must take to bring policymakers together to gain widespread support for a successful path forward for digital assets and ensure the benefits of blockchain technology are realized in the United States.   The Chamber of Digital Commerce exists in part to offer education and hands-on learning to Members of Congress that will empower them to receive and send cryptocurrencies and use blockchain technology.

While cryptocurrency is another way to pay for something digitally, there  is much, much more going on beneath the surface. Blockchain technology, the technology underpinning cryptocurrencies, doesn’t just keep track of financial transactions, it can also serve as a timestamping method akin to a digital notary, enabling new forms of corporate and social organization, and improving the way we transact digitally.  

Additionally, blockchain’s open, public ledger technology enables transactions to be traceable for law enforcement purposes and has been successful in protecting financial systems and the public from bad actors. 

Today, many small and medium-sized businesses accept cryptocurrency as payment for goods and services. It’s time for Congressional campaigns to do the same.

One of the biggest challenges campaigns face is fundraising. Most Members of Congress spend hours a day on fundraising efforts alone, oftentimes asking the same pool of long-time supporters for ever more money. It’s a necessary, but time-consuming distraction from governing, with an imperfect and unpredictable return on investment.

Just think of the ‘first-to-market’ benefit past candidates had who embraced websites, email, and social media. These forward-thinkers gained a strategic advantage because of their ability to understand and leverage the new technology before their competitors.

The United States has one of the lowest rates of youth voter turnout in the world. If politicians want to appeal to younger voters, they need to speak their language and reach them in ways that resonate.  More than 89 million Millennials who hold some form of cryptocurrency today are passionate about this new system of money and are likely to support candidates who embrace its possibilities.

Just as campaigns use social media to target different demographics, campaigns rely on a variety of different payment methods to solicit donations from different communities. Imagine if campaigns told direct mail donors that they could give only by credit card, or donors over the phone they had to go to a website. If you don’t let donors give and engage how they want to, they won’t.

Every day, cryptocurrency takes another step toward mainstream use. Investors are allocating more of their portfolios to it, entrepreneurs are pivoting their businesses towards it, and, perhaps most importantly, young people are drawn to it. Embracing cryptocurrency signals to those who believe in it that Members of Congress are in tune with the latest, cutting-edge technology.

Perhaps most importantly, for the U.S. to maintain its global leadership, we must remain at the forefront of advanced technologies. Blockchain might soon be considered ‘critical infrastructure’ within the new digital economy. China and the E.U. understand this and are already well ahead of the curve. Separately, each has publicly declared they want to be the global leader of developing blockchain technology and have strategic national initiatives underway. This would be a significant challenge to both our national security and economic security to have foreign actors controlling the systems and governance that will power the digital economy. 

Accepting cryptocurrency campaign contributions is one small yet impactful way Members of Congress can demonstrate their commitment to helping the U.S. maintain its technological leadership.

We at the Chamber are ready to help all Members who are ready to learn about blockchain technology and better understand its enormous potential for innovation and economic growth.


Perianne Boring is the Founder and President of the Chamber of Digital Commerce, the largest trade association dedicated to supporting the blockchain industry and educating policymakers on how the technology works while addressing regulatory concerns.