The Stellar Development Foundation, the non-profit behind the Stellar network and eponymous cryptocurrency (XML), announced late last week that it is now a member of the Blockchain Association, an industry trade and lobbying group that’s made up some of the biggest players in crypto, such as Coinbase, Ripple, Kraken, among many more.
The Blockchain Association is a group devoted to preaching the crypto gospel, particularly to Congress and US regulators, in an effort to see the blockchain industry thrive within the United States (as opposed to more lax jurisdictions overseas).
One of the major issues that the Association focused on last year was advancing the “The Token Taxonomy Act,” which aimed to exclude cryptocurrencies “from the definition of a security.” And the Blockchain Association is just one of around 40 groups currently lobbying on behalf of blockchain and cryptocurrency initiatives, according to CQ Roll Call, a website that reports on Congress. They spent a combined $42 million lobbying congress in Q1 2019 alone.
“Much of the world's financial system is outdated and unresponsive to the needs of today's consumers,” Kristin Smith, executive director of the Blockchain Association, told Decrypt. “We believe that open blockchain technology will help bring a more inclusive and accessible system, helping build a new system of global trust to meet the expectations of today's savvy digital citizens,” she said.
“By bringing Stellar on board, we'll be able to leverage their expertise to highlight open blockchain technology's potential in our conversations with policymakers,” said Smith.
Stellar’s general counsel, Candace Kelly, echoed the sentiment in a blog post accompanying the announcement. Kelly said she believes that the Blockchain Association, presenting a unified voice, is fostering an important conversation “by educating policymakers on the benefits of blockchain.”
Lobbying groups such as the Blockchain Association are trying to push the US Congress to act fast on blockchain and cryptocurrency and relax certain restrictions, lest rival economies like China take the lead on crypto. China is reportedly moving fast to develop its own state-backed digital currency, and its government has publicly expressed support for the booming blockchain tech industry.
Many players in the American industry are fighting for the US to not be left behind.
While Washington’s conversations around blockchain have “matured,” Smith thinks that many “continue to focus on the technology's well-publicized but overblown negative use cases.”
Whether Congress is ready to listen might determine whether the United States can catch up to its international competitors in the blockchain race.