Recent layoff turmoil in Silicon Valley has compelled some pundits to ask — is tech experiencing a midlife crisis?
Interest rate hikes have had an impact, of course, but the larger question, at least according to many industry watchers, is whether tech has lost the scent for the next big thing. After creating “the Uber of” nearly everything, what challenges lie on the horizon?
Thankfully, technological innovation is alive and well, creating jobs and boosting local economies. The best news is that some of the most exciting developments are happening right here in Florida.
The driver behind these gains is blockchain, a technology known for making independent cryptocurrencies possible but also an emerging industry with much more to offer.
Don’t fall asleep with the mention of blockchain. As with most truly novel inventions, blockchain can be confusing at first but also exciting enough to make its proponents, myself included, run on about its potential.
Just as I don’t need to understand how money is transferred electronically by tapping my credit card at Starbucks or when using my banking app, detailed knowledge of how blockchain works “under the hood” is not required to innovate on where it will go — and how it will benefit all of us.
For instance, blockchain can provide fraud-proof traceability for the raw materials that go into the products we buy, from a small cotton farmer in India all the way into the sofa we bring home from High Point Market. If you care about fair wages and environmentally sensitive practices, blockchain will soon help you direct your consumer dollars in accordance with your values.
There are abundant use cases for blockchain. Blockchain can verify the integrity of the pharmaceutical supply chain, improving the safety of our medicines. It can protect our personal and confidential information, reducing identity theft and cybercrimes. It enables smart contracts that are more readily enforceable, a boon for businesses that need partners to abide by agreed-upon terms. There are national security possibilities, substantial economic benefits, and advantages for consumers and families in the blockchain.
Blockchain is also being applied to the financial services realm, securing money transfers, preventing money laundering, and providing the basis for cryptocurrencies. The latter is especially exciting as a means to decentralize financial systems and thereby enhance resilience. Even as leaders in Washington, D.C., play chicken with the debt ceiling, threatening the value of the U.S. dollar, cryptocurrencies are establishing themselves as a viable alternative to traditional, nationally backed (and politician-susceptible) currencies.
As our financial assets turn digital in the 21st century, however, the shifts are challenging legal and regulatory structures built in and for another era. From accounting standards to oversight rules to tax laws, much needs to be modernized to pave the way for blockchain. Clarity and consistency should be the watchwords for policymakers as they strive to foster innovation and protect consumers. Workforce needs, too, must be revisited and updated.
Fortunately, our state is ahead of the pack. We already have a Florida Blockchain Task Force within the Florida Department of Financial Services. This organization was established to explore and define a master plan for the blockchain industry. They’re crafting a road map to prepare the labor force and deliver economic growth and development opportunities for all Floridians.
Now we need the Joe Biden administration to join the effort. The U.S. prides itself on being the world leader in innovation. With the right policies, we can blaze a trail in the emerging blockchain industry, capturing advantages ahead of the global competition and keeping our economy, jobs, and opportunities pointed toward the future. All with Florida leading the way.
Heather Rae Doyle is the founder of CoinQueens and a Web3 adviser & investor.
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