Over the last few years, the open blockchain ecosystem has evolved from a cluster of hobbyists into a global industry with billions of dollars of invested capital. An ever-widening circle of individuals and businesses recognize the value of decentralized, permissionless blockchains and the infinite number of solutions that can be built on top of them. They know that this revolutionary technology can create new standards of trust, efficiency and privacy in the digital world.
However, there are barriers to these advancements. On the industry side, innovators face regulatory minefields. On the policy side, lawmakers must navigate trust and safety, security concerns, and consumer protection. Among the general public and members of the media, many people do not understand what blockchain is — and isn’t.
When industry leaders come together, they can make an impact.
Today, we launch the Blockchain Association, a Washington, DC-based non-profit trade association that will serve as the unified voice of the blockchain ecosystem.
Our objective is to create a pro-innovation environment for the industry, meeting the growing global demand for accessible, transparent and democratic financial and technical systems. To do that, we’ll foster collaboration between the community and industry leaders, educate policymakers and the public on the benefits of blockchain and related technologies, and advocate for public policy that cultivates and enables innovation and improves lives.
The Blockchain Association unites the projects, investors, exchanges and foundations who will work together to advance the future of the entire ecosystem. Our inaugural members include industry-leading projects and exchanges, such as Coinbase, Protocol Labs, and Circle, and investors such as Digital Currency Group and Polychain Capital. These organizations are setting the pace of the industry. As a group, they can have the conversations with policymakers that will drive meaningful change.
We know the industry doesn’t agree 100 percent of the time, but we do share many core beliefs and principles. The Blockchain Association came together these past few months not in a bubble, but over coffees, dinners, video calls, and perhaps most importantly, during New York’s Blockchain Week. It’s clear that we will only thrive if the blockchain ecosystem achieves its full potential, which requires regulatory clarity, policies that support the whole system rather than a handful of large organizations, and the protection and privacy of consumers.
There’s a lot to be done.
Innovation moves faster than policy, and we’ve seen many blockchain-based frameworks with great potential that don’t fit neatly within existing statutory and regulatory frameworks. The unique characteristics of the token economy require an evolved environment that supports our members as they build more inclusive, efficient, and distributed financial systems, and more decentralized web applications.
Today, federal regulators and Congress are looking at consumer protection, regulation of token offerings and secondary token trading, anti-money laundering and know your customer laws, money transmitter licensing, taxation, and user privacy. The decisions they make now will affect the industry for years, so the Blockchain Association will be a liaison to policymakers: we’ll advocate for our community and the opportunities presented by our technologies, and encourage regulatory solutions that protect consumers and support innovation. We seek policies that support the creation and use of digital tokens and assets, and capital formation and trading through robust exchanges. Business practices that harm consumers should be rooted out and those that advance their interests should be encouraged, and legacy legal frameworks often don’t succeed at drawing the right distinction.
Work is underway. Join us.
Our immediate goals are to engage directly with elected officials and regulators, create campaigns that engage the blockchain industry in our work, and build coalitions with other organizations to create a broader, coordinated community.
The first step is hiring the people who can deliver against the Blockchain Association’s vision, and we’re thrilled to announce we’ve made our first hire. Further hiring announcements will be forthcoming, and we welcome applications and recommendations.
What we need now is the collaboration and support of those of you in the ecosystem. We’re navigating a complex environment and our solutions will improve as we include the contributions of more organizations. Membership of the Blockchain Association is tiered by company resource, and we have included an Associate tier for nascent endeavors to ensure all interested parties have a voice. Our staff and board will be developing an inclusive membership framework in the coming months.
We’re grateful for the early support of many members of the community who helped bring this organization together and started the process by reaching out to colleagues and peers, generating a shared vision and converting that vision into the Blockchain Association. Particular thanks go to Jerry Brito and the team at Coin Center, who provided extensive insight and advice: we are grateful to have them as key partners to the Blockchain Association staff.
As a community, we’re committed to being thoughtful, creative, and unified. Working together, we will see the adoption of policies that will unlock the potential of our ecosystem. We hope you’ll join us!
Thanks to Marvin Ammori, Robert Bench, Olaf Carlson-Wee, Mike Lempres, Josh Mendelsohn, Mark Murphy, Alex Pack, Tekin Salimi, Kristin McKenzie Smith, Connor Spelliscy, Jerry Brito and everyone else at Coin Center, and many others for their help in forming the Blockchain Association.