America needs to get moving on blockchain

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From the sublime to the ridiculous, America invents. From the airplane to Jell-O, and in between, we somehow understand intuitively what people want and figure out how to get it to them. That’s put us in a position to lead the transformation of the marketplace many times, most recently by our rapid adoption of e-commerce.

It’s time we did it again by applying that same innovative spirit to blockchain. Instead, we’re hesitating. This may be out of fear of the unknown, but that’s easy to fix. Blockchain isn’t complicated and shouldn’t be scary. At its core, it is a peer-to-peer communication technology that could revolutionize global financial transactions, especially those crossing international borders.

The quicker we adopt it, the faster we get to a more streamlined and efficient future. That’s in everybody’s interest. The value of money continually fluctuates. Digital networks must operate quickly for estimates of value at the time of purchase to be accurately preserved. The faster they move, the more precise, secure, and transparent those valuations can be.

This has been true for a while. In a December 2022 Wall Street Journal op-ed, Goldman Sachs Chairman and CEO David Solomon told to the world, “Blockchain is much more than crypto.”

Solomon explained the promise of blockchain could be fulfilled if the nation’s major regulated financial institutions were allowed to step up to the plate and make it happen. “Unlike other waves of innovation, blockchain technology came in and disrupted heavily regulated industries. The invention of email didn’t make FedEx or UPS obsolete.”

“(P)eer-to-peer payments and the tokenization of traditional assets are changing corporations, from how they raise money to how investors trade stocks,” Solomon wrote, explaining how this would have far-reaching implications for the global economy. Other financial firms like BlackRock and JPMorgan are following suit, developing products and systems of their own that utilize the blockchain.

Blockchain can do a lot more than speed up the processing of financial transactions. It has many potential applications that have not been touched yet, like enhancing the transparency, efficiency, and tracking of land titles, licensing, public works bidding, and supply chain operations. It might even provide a way to make elections more secure.

It’s a shame so many innovators have been left to twiddle their thumbs while the government takes its time writing the rules. There’s no way to calculate how much growth in the economy is being lost or deferred or how many jobs aren’t being created because Congress and the Securities and Exchange Commission are moving so slowly. Odds are, unfortunately, it’s considerable.

Look at the way, for example, artificial intelligence investments drive growth. James Pinkerton, the futurist thinker whose new book, The Secret of Directional Investing, examines the divide between the red and blue states from the perspective of what’s good for investors, believes the flood of money into Silicon Valley to support the development of AI is keeping California afloat.

A similar tidal wave of investment might also flood the marketplace if the enormous obstacles put up by the SEC were removed so that blockchain could be widely adopted. So far, only two digital networks or assets in the U.S., Bitcoin, and XRP, have regulatory clarity as the result of judicial intervention and SEC rebukes.

That’s not the way to facilitate innovation in the market. If there are to be rules of the road, and no one is saying there shouldn’t be, then Congress or the SEC should write them and be done with it. Regulatory clarity allows the free market to move forward. Without it, we’ll only be able to speculate on the technology’s actual value.

Enough time has been wasted already. Investment isn’t chasing value. Opportunities for progress are being delayed or lost to other countries. If we don’t make it a priority, China and the other countries that comprise BRICS will steal a march on the United States. America can’t afford that.

Copyright 2024 Peter Roff distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Peter Roff is former U.S. News and World Report contributing editor and UPI senior political writer now affiliated with several DC-based public policy organizations. He writes for numerous publications and appears regularly on international television talking about U.S. politics. You can reach him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @TheRoffDraft.

Peter Roff is a media fellow at the Trans-Atlantic Leadership Network, a former columnist for U.S. News and World Report, and senior political writer for United Press International. Contact Roff at [email protected].