Cryptocurrencies,  Politics,  United States

Congress’s first-ever report on crypto may be bigger than it seems

It’s somewhere between an idiot’s guide and a cheery report of the future of blockchain

The U.S. Congress delivered, for the first time, a report on the importance of cryptocurrencies to the American economy. The Joint Economic Committee distilled a myriad of reports from the Congressional Budget Office and other sources to make recommendations in an annual report to the Speaker of the House. This year the bipartisan committee spelled out the advantages of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.

“Policymakers and the public should become more familiar with digital currencies and other uses of blockchain technology, which have a wide range of applications in the future,” the report said.

It’s most jaw-dropping chart is just titled “Cryptocurrencies Made the Stock Market Gains Look Insignificant.”

This chart is an eye-opener (via U.S. Congress).

The report, which is long on the promise of cryptocurrency, was addressed to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) from Representative Erik Paulsen (R-Minnesota). The entry-level 300 page report delved into government health care, tax policy, and the opioid crisis before meandering into its final 100 pages on the promise of cryptocurrencies.

In a time of partisan infighting, it is refreshing to see a group doing their best to digest the most up-to-date material from many sources.

For the most part the report takes an optimistic view. It’s somewhere between an idiot’s guide and a cheery report of the future of blockchain even in medical applications. In fact, it should stand out as a well-vetted primer.

This is the sort of internet-in-the-’80s reporting that the industry needs. It even brings in how it could work with and improve existing government protocols such as the 2016 Better Way framework for reforming health care.

“Blockchain technology,” the JEC report excitedly shared, ”could provide a powerful solution for portability, enabling medical records to be carried on a smartphone or other mobile device with very little risk of being vulnerable to cyberattacks.”

Its final conclusions are long on crypto. “Blockchain technology essentially stores and transmits data securely, in large volume, and at high speeds. So far, the technology has proved largely resistant to hacking, and given this feature, developers first applied it to digital currencies.” Again, this is a report meant for the my-staff-handles-my-email-for-me legislator. “Yet blockchain has many more potential applications, such as portable medical records and securing the critical financial and energy infrastructure that the Report identified.”

In a number of years this report might be like the original DARPANET report on a nascent internet. Congress admits that it can’t predict the future, but has put all its members on notice: that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be watching.

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Brendan Sullivan is a writer, producer, and author of the memoir Rivington Was Ours: Lady Gaga, the Lower East Side, and the Prime of Our Lives. Disclosure: he owns cryptocurrencies. Follow him on Twitter.