Lawmakers on Monday announced the creation of a caucus focused on blockchain technologies like Bitcoin.
“The blockchain has boundless potential," Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) said in a statement detailing the new Congressional Blockchain Caucus. "From cryptocurrencies to supply chains to banking to property titling, blockchain-based solutions have the ability to decentralize cybersecurity and revolutionize many industries.”
Blockchain systems, most synonymous with Bitcoin, function as digital ledgers of transactions. Transactions are recorded on the ledger and are publicly but anonymously available for verification in the case of Bitcoin. Private banks are experimenting with technology for proprietary use to cut down costs and expedite transactions.
Bitcoin and other blockchain-based currencies have been associated with libertarian hopes of anonymous digital payments and criminals on dark websites like the Silk Road, who used the currency to purchase contraband anonymously. Blockchain technologies have been creeping toward the mainstream recently, however.
Earlier this month, a startup called Ripple raised $55 million for its blockchain-based system, which processes cross-border payments between banks in seconds as opposed to the current standard of three to five days. And last year, prominent Bitcoin company Coinbase raised $75 million in funding from several investors, including the New York Stock Exchange.
The slow adoption of blockchain and Bitcoin’s $7 billion and growing market capitalization have prompted speculation of impending regulation. Bitcoin and blockchain technologies currently have comparatively few restrictions. In the release, Polis noted that caucus could be important in this role by “safeguarding consumers” as interest in blockchain technology grows.