Sometimes, after a long and stressful day’s work, I just have to clear my head. I take a drive. I usually end up going somewhere to think and reflect. I like Gantry Plaza in the off-season — no tourists, just me and that gorgeous view of the FDR skyline across the water and that view. Lately, I look and I think, “How can the same America that built these giants that defy gravity, these monuments to true American innovation, still be so hesitant to accept the biggest innovation of the modern age?” Blockchain technology is like the foundations of these buildings. I’m not that old, but I can still remember an America that wasn’t hesitant to innovate. For now, I can only get in my car, leave and hope for a tomorrow when America is no longer reluctant.
I hear about Tron CEO Justin Sun planning a luncheon with modern-day railroad tycoon Warren Buffett and inviting along Charlie Lee, CEO of Litecoin [Full disclosure: Author owns Litecoin, bitcoin, Tron and Pundi X]. Both innovators are trying to convince the previous generation that blockchain is no flash in the pan. I’m not so sure the unwavering Buffett will be easily swayed, with his mindset not dissimilar from the current stance of American regulators.
The storied past of bitcoin aside, blockchain projects are bending over backward to meet the demands of regulators, some even going as far as seeking ISO 37001 certification to remain above board. This is an economic climate filled with Americans hungry for change, and it remains a bipartisan issue, with both parties appealing to the powers that be, struggling to make the case that we can keep up with the rest of the world. Though other countries have seen their own tumultuous regulatory transitions, several in Asia have begun to embrace the technology and payment options with tremendous public support. With companies like Litecoin and Pundi X working at a fevered pace to attain public adoption, the whole continent may leave us scrambling to keep up. It’s happening now — go to any number of Asian retailers and ask to use crypto, and they’ll whip out a transaction portal quicker than you can say Lightning Network.
Regulatory framework aside, I believe that Asian public adoption is hitting a stride that America endeavors for, but often falls short of financial inclusion. There are vast numbers of unbanked or underbanked merchants and individuals suddenly being offered a seat at the table of a cooperative economy. The pros and cons, the causes of the justified trepidation on behalf of American regulators, create a cyclical conversation. However, I believe that over-regulation runs the potential risk of stifling innovation. Proponents of the industry boldly stand their ground with a unified rally cry of “Don’t get left behind” against strong opposition with a fear that crypto could potentially upend the value of the U.S. dollar. This mindset is most recently echoed in Congress, with their moratorium on the development of Facebook’s Libra, resulting in a public spectacle. The claims of the asset’s potential to be “too big to fail” and implicit ability, if applied on a grand enough scale, to topple the world economy is a testament to the social monopoly Facebook already poses.
However, I don’t believe this should be a reason to hold off on the adoption of other projects that clearly aren’t bent on world domination (not that Libra necessarily is). There are projects that aim to solve real-world problems and have the technology to do so. I wonder how a subject that I’ve seen to be polarizing in Congress can come to a happy medium. These thoughts consume me daily as I fight through the waves of honking metal beasts known affectionately as the “bridge and tunnel crowd.” Recently it dawned on me: Maybe “traffic” is the real issue. Companies like Facebook intimidate Congress because they control traffic. Even though it’s nowhere as extreme as Chinese censorship laws, Facebook has been proven to possess the ability to control much of what you see on the internet (even beyond the confines of your newsfeed). A company like that, with that deep of a grip on your daily content diet, suddenly having control of their own sovereign currency is a bit of a hard pill to swallow.
But, it still just comes down to that: traffic. We have the infrastructure for traffic — it can be a complicated rat’s nest sometimes, but somehow we manage. Our country has the roads in place to direct (with a certain degree of accuracy) all of the cars, planes, boats, trains and satellites in a near state of harmony. A few bits and bytes shouldn’t be that difficult, right? If an asset is purported to be whatever the white paper says, has been greenlit and is accountably compliant after being vetted by third parties that are comprised of proven experts in the field to make sure these assets “stay in their lane,” that could mean jobs — American jobs.
Just like nobody saw coming, the great expanse of eight-lane “ribbon of highway” connecting the cities of this nation for the betterment of all who would venture out on wheels, so too are there blinders to this next inevitable stage of progress. This next opportunity for America to show the world what it’s made of. We weren’t afraid then, and we shouldn’t be now. The highways are already being built. It’s our job to come to an agreement where the rubber meets the road.
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