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Blockchain: Our link to the future

Despite what your feelings may be about what is happening on Capitol Hill these days, sometimes we do need Congress to help us gain a sense of order in our lives.

Take blockchain, for example. If you’re scratching your head over what I mean by this term, it may not be too long before you know “blockchain” as well as you know “internet.”

Webster’s calls it “a digital database containing information (such as records of financial transactions) that can be simultaneously used and shared within a large decentralized, publicly accessible network.”

This captures the basics of the new sector already claiming a spot in the financial technology community. Public and private sector use cases for blockchain touch almost every sector — from health care and real estate to cybersecurity and education. By 2025, the business value added by blockchain will grow to slightly more than $176 billion then surge to exceed $3.1 trillion by 2030, according to a recent forecast by Gartner.

Blockchain’s security and transparency are a few reasons why one of its offshoots, cryptocurrency, is catching on and making its own headlines — some good, some bad.

It’s that last part that brings the need to examine fundamental constructs of our social, political and financial ecosystem in the United States, as well as on a global scale. And that’s where federal lawmakers can help. Standards bodies such as Congress and industry groups serve as official or sanctioned forums and repositories for definitions to emerge with some degree of authority, authorization and collective alignment.

At the heart of the proposed Blockchain Promotion Act of 2019 is a call for the U.S. Department of Commerce to establish a blockchain working group that will recommend a consensus-based definition of the technology.

The working group also would consider recommendations for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and Federal Communications Commission to undertake a study that would examine the potential impact of blockchain on spectrum policy, and examine a range of potential applications, including non-financial, for blockchain. The study also would cite opportunities for the adoption of the technology to promote efficiencies within the federal government.

At minimum, this effort could serve as an ecosystem signal on many levels as it provides valuable information. The act also could offer industries, businesses and others a focal point for support in optimizing the opportunities and minimizing the threats associated with blockchain.

The act is making its way through Congress in separate proposals. H.R. 1361 already has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, and House Oversight and Reform Committee. S.553 has been sent to the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.

The Arizona Technology Council joins industry groups TECNA, CompTIA and 35 other regional technology-related organizations in supporting the act’s passage in this session of Congress.

TECNA (Technology Councils of North America) alone represents about 50 IT and technology trade organizations that, in turn, act on behalf of more than 22,000 technology-related companies in North America. CompTIA (Computing Technology Industry Association) is an advocate for the $5 trillion global information technology ecosystem, and more than 50 million industry and technology professionals.

It’s not often we get the opportunity to be on the ground floor of something that will help shape all our lives. I encourage you to join me and contact your members of Arizona’s congressional delegation to ask them to support the act. This is our defining moment.

By Steve Zylstra – Phoenix Business Journal, Guest Blogger