Rhode Island might be a small state, better known for being the setting of “Family Guy” than much else, but it has a decided history with blockchain. Part of this is a survival measure; throughout the United States, new laws are stepping in regarding blockchain operations. Wyoming, for example, has recently launched a slate of new laws making the state more accommodating to blockchain development. Delaware, meanwhile, has begun a similar process, turning to blockchain to make government operations more efficient. While reports suggest that process has stalled out somewhat in reaching citizens and businesses in the state, the process is still begun. Rhode Island, meanwhile, is increasingly proving itself a force to be reckoned with in blockchain.
In fact, some have come to regard Rhode Island’s efforts in blockchain to be, effectively, a kind of spiritual successor to those undertaken in Delaware. This is evidenced by Rhode Island’s current director of the Department of Business Regulation, Elizabeth Tanner. Tanner is not only part of Rhode Island’s government, she’s also an e-resident of Estonia, one of the leading blockchain powers of Europe.
Tanner is drawing on Estonia’s blockchain experiences and bringing these back to Rhode Island, leading to more effective and more efficient government practices. She’s backed up in this effort by both Governor Gina Raimondo and Rhode Island’s Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor.
Already, the state has fielded a range of proposals looking to provide examples of blockchain technology used to improve the state’s operations. Specifically, the state wants these operations to be “…more efficient, transparent, accurate, secure and business-friendly,” notes one report.
Ultimately, Rhode Island is out to be the ultimate testing ground for those working in the blockchain space, and is putting its money—or rather its university vouchers—where its mouth is. The state has several incentives available, including a voucher valued at $50,000 for any entrepreneur to step in and use university testing facilities—including those at Brown University—to test new products and services.
Additionally, Rhode Island is revamping its laws to ensure that cryptocurrency operations are properly regulated yet able to step in. This called for a specific retooling of the state’s money transmitter law, which previously was seen as somewhat ambiguous in nature. Rhode Island Banking Division deputy director Beth Dwyer noted “…we want to make it crystal clear who needs a license and who doesn’t need a license. That’s why there is pending legislation.”
Dwyer and those involved also targeted industry experts in the field for consultation to better ensure that the laws are properly constructed to allow for innovation while not offering free rein.
Felix Shipkevich is a principal of Shipkevich PLLC. His practice focuses on providing counsel to FinTech and financial services firms, including financial technology, payments and emerging digital currency space. He has spoken at national panels in the money transmitter space and payments industry. Mr. Shipkevich’s payments practice has brought him into contact with money transmitter registration requirements in all fifty U.S. States.
To read his full profile, click here.