Blockchain Task Force could create—or stymie—economic opportunity in Florida, experts say

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Regulatory environment will impact cryptocurrency transactions.

Whether Florida sees companies working with blockchain move here depends on whether lawmakers get things right next session.

That was the major takeaway from the first meeting of the Blockchain Task Force in Tallahassee on Monday.

“We are seeing a lot of eyes on Florida in the blockchain space,” said Rosa Shores, co-founder of Blockspaces.

Shores’ Tampa-based company is one tech business based in the Sunshine State working with the technology, but there could be more.

Chief Financial Office Jimmy Patronis, who addressed the task force’s first meeting, espoused optimism on the subject.

“This is a great time for technology in this state,” he said.

“Florida’s leaders, myself included, support technology growth and innovation, which ultimately grows our economy and increases our competitiveness.”

Blockchain, a method of recording transactions that can be used with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, has been a focus of Patronis. He notes some enthusiasts in the field see potential for fundamentally changing the finance world.

“Blockchain proponents say this technology will be as transformational as the internet,” he said.

“If this is true – we need to make sure Florida is ready.”

Experts testified to task force members that states like New York and California have not gotten the law in line with the technology.

That’s costing business, even driving many to flee Silicon Valley. Shores did point to other states like Wyoming for a better model Florida can follow.

Of course, Florida as the third largest state could set the course for blockchain rules nationwide.

Samuel Armes, president of the Florida Blockchain Business Association, called the technology an “extremely awesome opportunity.” He previously worked for Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg, the first government office in Florida to accept Bitcoin for payments.

He suggested the task force has an opportunity to clarify and promote the entire blockchain industry, which he noted extends beyond cryptocurrency.

Regulations could provide needed transparency in technology-driven transactions, experts testified.

Florida also can track national efforts. Those in the financial space already expressed some fear of overstepping and interference by the federal government.

Tackling the issue now, they said, could help protect state oversight over appropriate commercial efforts.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at jacobogles@hotmail.com.



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