MONTGOMERY — Entrepreneurs and state officials met in Montgomery last week to discuss the future of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency in Alabama.

A resolution establishing a joint legislative study commission over two years starting in the summer studying blockchain and cryptocurrency issues and opportunities in Alabama is expected to be introduced in the legislature this week.

The Alabama Blockchain Alliance hosted a panel discussion on Tuesday in Montgomery about ways the state could become more crypto and blockchain-friendly. Blockchain is a shared ledger or database technology often associated with cryptocurrency, an alternative digital form of payment.

"The Alabama Blockchain Alliance was founded with one goal in mind: to build opportunities for Alabama citizens by positioning the state as a leader in the blockchain industry. Our organization has spent over a year examining how to educate the general public and elected officials on topics related to blockchain technology as well as cryptocurrency," Clay McInnis, board president of the Alabama Blockchain Alliance, said in a statement to 1819 News. "The Alliance has partnered with respected organizations and attended national summits to understand how state and local officials across the country are approaching these complex topics. While the debate on blockchain and cryptocurrency policy has been a major focus in Washington, DC over the last 5 years, we believe that industry and individuals in the space are shifting more focus to state-level activity and educational campaigns. The ABA looks forward to joining state regulators and private sector partners for a closer examination of policies and use cases that can provide long-term benefits to the state of Alabama."

Amanda Senn, Alabama Securities Commission Director, said in a statement to 1819 News, "Many of the fraudulent schemes that we are uncovering now involve cryptocurrency as fraudsters are migrating to cryptocurrency to perpetrate their schemes."  

"If cryptocurrency is to be considered part of the financial ecosystem it needs to come into the regulated environment. Many of these crypto firms are operating like depository institutions and brokerage firms, both of which are required to comply with laws designed to protect investors and minimize risk to our capital markets; including cybersecurity protocols, anti-money laundering laws, capital reserve requirements, and disclosures, including conflicts of interest-especially financial related conflicts," Senn said. "Blockchain technology has been around for some time and we look forward to ways this technology can be used to help our financial community. To that end, we are excited to announce the establishment of the Financial Innovation division which will work across industry to explore ways to promote efficiencies through technology within our financial community. Our priority is to protect investors from fraud and ensure integrity in our financial markets. Technology has its advantages, but as with every new development, fraudsters are quick to exploit new mechanisms. By working with industry, we can determine ways to put safeguards around new technology to minimize the risk to our investing public while fostering innovation."

Brian Krogsgard, a Homewood entrepreneur, said during the panel discussion on Tuesday, "The United States has been really slow to support this technology."

"The bad guys will continue to do it whether you like it or not but you're stopping the good guys if you're not helping them know what's the clear step I can take. What we can do is embrace this change that is inevitable and enable it in a clear way," Krogsgard said. "There's a tremendous amount of good that can be done using this. I don't want to overstep it. I don't know to what level. A lot of people like to say it's like the internet all over again. It may be smaller than that. It may be bigger. Probably not the same, most things aren't. The point is: who cares? Be supportive of that change and you get to define the terms a little bit if you're engaging. That would be really valuable. Right now, it is not advantageous to do any of this stuff based out of the U.S. at all." 

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