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Blockchain Task Force modifies, anticipates legislation Local news

Members of the Wyoming Blockchain Task Force have moved forward seven bills that hope to make the state a national leader in emerging technologies this week.

The group held a two-day meeting in Cheyenne to modify and review the bills for the 2019 survey.

While many of the drafts have gone through public testimony and committee debate, others have faced some opposition.

One of the most significant changes to a bill would require the Office of the Secretary of State of Wyoming to implement a blockchain-based business entity storage system that would run in parallel with the existing office program.

The previous drafts only changed the way the records followed by the office, with supporters citing a security appeal for companies vulnerable to data sources.

Now, the office would be in charge of developing a blockchain-based system, including a programming interface with "robust" security measures.

To do this, they could create a blockchain from scratch or a contract to use a private ledger.

The members of the task force made it clear that this will not replace the current system, but both the Secretary of State of Wyoming, Ed Buchanan, and the Deputy Secretary Karen Wheeler said the prospect took them by surprise. The office was not contacted for input on the new addition, they said, adding that the project may not be necessary.

After some discussions, the group agreed that it is worth making Wyoming the first in the country to implement such a program.

Another major change was that of a bill that authorized specialized deposit banks for blockchains and other large companies.

Originally, the bank was similar to a mutual, adhering to cryptography preferences, but after significant changes, it would become a company under the Wyoming Business Corporation Act.

The bank would also be required to maintain insurance or bonds to hedge operational risks.

The member of the task force Caitlin Long reiterated how difficult it is for the blockchain companies to find a home with traditional banks.

"The compliance issues that banks face have made it so difficult that the vast majority of banking institutions in the United States are not bankrupt in this sector," he said.

Michael Geesey, executive director of the Wyoming Bankers Association, said again that he does not believe the bank is necessary; if these companies adhere to federal laws, there is no reason why they could not be placed in the bank in Wyoming. He also feared that the bank would put some reputational risks to the industry.

Bank representatives said they would be happy to work with these companies, given the opportunity.

"I've never been asked to open an account like that," said Jeff Wallace with Wyoming Bank and Trust. "I think that if I respected all the laws, I'd like it a lot."

Another legislation establishing a financial technology, or "FinTech" sandbox, would allow financial products to be tested with some regulatory relief for up to three years. Companies may request exceptions to statutes or regulations at the discretion of the Office of the Secretary of State or the Wyoming Banking Division.

The idea is to borrow pieces of similar legislation in Illinois and Arizona to make Wyoming more attractive to these companies.

Participants would still be subject to civil damages, consumer protection laws and a $ 500 filing fee to deposit in a newly created "technological innovation account" that would fund the effort.

Wheeler said that his office already does so in most cases.

"This adds another aspect to what our office already does regarding the review of securities offerings and investment projects," he said. "It's something we already do, we already work with small businesses that want to raise capital in Wyoming."

Members said the legislation would further prove that Wyoming is open for Blockchain's business.

Another bill will establish a framework for service companies contacted by customers with high energy needs, such as cryptocurrency miners working on a blockchain. For example, Black Hills Energy recently presented a request to the authority for the implementation of new electricity price options for companies with greater consumption needs.

These and some other bills now go to various legislative subcommittees for further review.

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