August 25, 2020
By: Senator Jeff Brandes
There is a financial technology (fintech) revolution happening, and it is time for Florida to lead. One exciting aspect of this revolution has been the introduction of blockchain technologies and the growing use of cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, are peer-to-peer electronic cash payment systems that allow users to avoid the sometimes cumbersome process associated with traditional banks.
The value cryptocurrencies have added for users has become evident over the past decade. Meanwhile, state governments have yet to catch up from a regulatory perspective.
One state that has created the necessary policies to allow this fintech payment system to flourish is Wyoming. The Cowboy State may not be the first place you think about when you hear “tech hotbed.” However, recent regulatory changes to its money transmission and banking regulations made Wyoming the leading state for cryptocurrency. By taking this issue on, Wyoming’s Legislature has kicked off a virtual gold rush in their state.
Where are we? Florida has initiated the conversation in this area. This can be seen by this year’s passage of House Bill 1391, titled Technology Innovation. This bill, which I was happy to support in the Senate, created an innovation-friendly “regulatory sandbox” for cutting-edge financial technology firms to experiment in our state. Additionally, we have the Florida Blockchain Task Force, offering a dedicated team that examines best practices in the industry to prepare us to take the next step.
Now is the time for the state to take things one step further. We need to build upon the framework established by Wyoming to increase the use of blockchain and cryptocurrency in Florida. A recent policy study from The James Madison Institute highlights this reality.
Florida has a great deal to gain by embracing this innovation. We have a large population that would be well served by added financial diversity, including those who lack access to traditional banking and borrowing services, known as the unbanked or underbanked. Cryptocurrency would provide additional and better options for monetary management and security.
Also, we have an expansive entrepreneurial community that stands ready to take advantage of this system and new opportunity for funding sources. Finally, we have Miami, the gateway to the Americas. By allowing the international community in Miami to utilize cryptocurrencies, we provide the state with the potential to expand our reach even further across Latin and South America.
I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Florida Legislature next year to further the policies proposed by the Blockchain Task Force, the entrepreneurs who are building businesses utilizing these new platforms, and other industries across the state that could benefit in order to keep Florida on the forefront of this emerging technology.
Jeff Brandes is a member of the Florida Senate, representing District 24 in the Tampa Bay area.