Op-Ed by Perianne Boring
Learning by doing is the most effective way to understand something new, especially when it comes to technology. Think of the first time you sent an instant message, downloaded your first app, or set up your first social media account.
Those simple actions turned theory into reality, and for many of us, the lightbulb went off. Engaging in a cryptocurrency transaction for the first time is the same thing: an inflection point where one discovers the tremendous potential of digital money and blockchain technology. That’s why the Chamber of Digital Commerce’s PAC contributed cryptocurrency to every Member of Congress’ campaign.
Many Americans have already had their first cryptocurrency transaction and now is the time for political leaders to do the same. A study by Coin Metrics revealed that 15% of American adults – and 27% of Millennials – own some form of cryptocurrency today. In addition, more than 33% of small and medium-size businesses in America now accept 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.
While cryptocurrency is another way to pay for something digitally, there much more beneath the surface. Blockchain technology, the essential engine underpinning cryptocurrencies, doesn’t just keep track of financial transactions. It also serves as a timestamp akin to a digital notary, enabling new forms of corporate and social organization, and enhancing transparency and security for transactions around the globe. Blockchain’s open, public ledger technology also enables transactions to be traceable for law enforcement purposes and has been successful in protecting financial systems and the public from bad actors.
As we have seen with other transformative technologies, whether high-speed broadband or mobile communications – the United States has a unique opportunity to catalyze rapid economic growth, while fostering and encouraging innovation for a new digital tool everyone participating in the global economy can use.
For that to happen consumers and policymakers alike must understand what cryptocurrency is and is not. Education is the first step for policymakers to come together to develop sound policies that ensure the benefits of the digital economy and blockchain technology are realized in the United States. The best way to do that is to set up a digital wallet and get started on your own blockchain journey.
According to Marc Andreesen, “The blockchain is the most important technology since the Internet itself,” and it is fundamentally changing every industry in our economy. Blockchain will change the way we engage in politics, campaigns and elections too.
One of the biggest challenges political campaigns face is fundraising. Most Members of Congress spend hours a day on fundraising efforts, oftentimes asking the same pool of long-time supporters for financial support. 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, social media, and yes, online fundraising. 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 engagement in the world. If politicians want to appeal to younger voters, they need to speak their language and reach them in ways that resonate and are authentic. The 20 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.
The more choices people have to give, the more likely they are to support candidates. Digital assets are another option that a growing number of Americans have access to.
Every day, cryptocurrency takes another step toward mainstream use. Investors are allocating more of their portfolios to it, entrepreneurs are pivoting their businesses toward it, and, perhaps most importantly, young people are drawn to it. Adopting cryptocurrency signals to those who believe in it that Members of Congress are in tune with the latest, cutting-edge technology. It also highlights the ease, security and transparency blockchain technology offers.
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., each has publicly declared they want to be the global leader of developing blockchain technology and have strategic national initiatives well 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, and better understand a technology that will be crucial to their constituents.
For more information, visit www.cryptoforcongress.com.