Perianne Boring is spending a lot of time in North Carolina these days.
September 1, 2015
DC-Based Bitcoin Expert: North Carolina Is Leader In Legislating Virtual Currency
NC Triangle Bitcoin Meetup hosts national digital commerce industry leader for Bitcoin legislative update and discussion.
The former finance industry journalist and legislative analyst on Capitol Hill founded the only Washington D.C. industry association dedicated to digital commerce, including Bitcoin and blockchain technology, and leads the year-old Chamber of Digital Commerce as its president today. She’ll join a panel of lobbyists, investors and local enthusiasts at the first meeting of the NC Triangle Bitcoin Meetup tonight at RTP’s The Frontier.
North Carolina is of special interest to her organization because it could be the first state to pass a law to govern cryptocurrency transmitters and bitcoin-affiliated companies, providing necessary protections for consumers but potentially damaging limitations on startups and Bitcoin 2.0 companies.
By Bitcoin 2.0, she means the companies who aren’t transmitting digital currency but who use bitcoin technology to transact other business.
“North Carolina is taking a leadership role in coming up with a way to regulate virtual currency—a different approach than what New York is doing—and many within the industry are very supportive of the efforts here,” says Boring, who is pictured above.
The most supportive of those is Silicon Valley-based transmitter, processor and software provider Coinbase, which was founded by a pair of Duke University graduates.
But supporters don’t include the small startups like Bitcoin ATM startup CoinOutlet, which left North Carolina this summer as a result of the pending legislation, and BitBasics, a bitcoin technology education nonprofit. They consider the legislation too sweeping, expensive (It costs $250,000 to get a license) and threatening to innovation in the still young industry. Though Boring is supportive of a law in North Carolina, she agrees.
“The definition of virtual currency if very broad and our legal team says it could include businesses in the bitcoin blockchain ecosystem that have nothing to do with money transmission—the software providers, online gaming companies, hosted wallets, nonprofits, etc.,” she says. “They don’t need to be regulated as money transmitters because they are very clearly not.”
Both New York regulation and proposed California legislation offer a transitional license for small businesses with under $1 million in revenue, she points out. Once a company grows beyond that size, the other states presume they’d have the funds to implement the onerous requirements necessary to get a full license. So far, that’s not the case in North Carolina.
That’s partially why she’s made a second trip to North Carolina in three weeks. She played a key role in the Cryptolina Bitcoin and Blockchain Expo in Charlotte in August. Today, she’s meeting with legislators and educating other local leaders on the currency, technology and proposed laws.
Boring may be among the youngest industry association presidents—graduating from college in 2010—but she represents the many young people interested and enthusiastic about this new way of transacting money and business. She became interested in the currency and technology when she worked on Capitol Hill in 2011 and 2012. In 2013, she took a job as a television reporter focused on alternative financial markets and wrote columns on the subject for Forbes. It was a year full of Bitcoin-related scandal, but one that saw huge price increases for the currency.
“It was the year of Bitcoin and the greatest gift you could have given a journalist,” she says. As she learned about the industry, she became impassioned and wanted to have a larger role in ushering in a technology she calls “transformational” and a “generational opportunity”.
Today, she’s working with 10 federal agencies and departments to provide education and guidance about Bitcoin and the blockchain technology that allows its transmission and transaction. She often connects legislators and the media with Chamber members, which range from exchanges, processors and financial institutions to software providers and technology startups.
Only recently has the organization started working within states, efforts prompted earlier this year by the creation of the BitLicense by the New York Department of Financial Services. California and North Carolina are the first states to take legislative approaches.
In North Carolina, legislators have proposed updating the existing Money Transmitters Act to include cryptocurrency companies. California, which is the hotbed of innovation in the burgeoning field, has proposed an amendment to the state’s financial code. An update in July allows for small-scale operations to register for a $500 fee and receive a provisional license for a period of two years.
Unique to the California bill is a clause the defines “virtual currency business” more narrowly, removing exchanges or non-currency related businesses from the licensing obligations. Local organizers hope North Carolina will adopt similar amendments to the proposed law.
Besides educating and lobbying legislatures, Boring and the local Triangle Bitcoin Meetup organizers still have a battle ahead. They have to reverse several years of misinformation and confusion about Bitcoin and the technology that powers it.
“People might not know what Bitcoin is, but they know what Microsoft, IBM and Samsung are,” Boring says. “If they’re looking at it, then it can’t be a fad or bubble or something for criminal activity. We still have quite a bit of education to do, with policymakers and the general public.”
To attend tonight’s event, RSVP here.