With FinTech playing an increasing role in global affairs, it is perhaps not surprising that some governments and politicians are embracing innovations such as blockchain technology.
Just yesterday, CoinDesk reported Blockchain CEO Peter Smith was one of the 31 executives to participate in a trade delegation led by the UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron to promote FinTech businesses in Southeast Asia.
This, however, is not the first time bitcoin and politics have come face to face.
Here’s a list of some of the most high profile politicians to embrace bitcoin and blockchain technology to date.
1. Jared Polis
The US congressman first caught the attention of the digital currency community in March last year when he issued a satirical response to policy makers wanting to ban bitcoin.
In a move that would see him gain significant following among bitcoin enthusiasts, Polis argued that the US dollar should be banned, not the cryptocurrency.
During an interview with CoinDesk, he confirmed he would work to wade off the government’s potential attempts to skirt bitcoin growth whilst in Congress.
He added: “If there was an agency that reacted in an irrationally negative way to digital currencies, I would be happy to rally support [in Congress] to restrict their funding.”
2. Dan Elder
In July last year, Dan Elder – running for the US House in the state of Missouri – became the first Congressional candidate in the United States to fund his campaign solely in bitcoin.
Speaking to CoinDesk, Elder highlighted the digital currency’s potential, noting it was a unique way of bringing integrity back to the notion of money.
The Air National Guard veteran and IT specialist said he saw bitcoin as a potential competitor against fiat, traditional centralised banking and the risky financial sector.
“I’m accepting BTC donations to solely fund my campaign to take a stance against the Federal Reserve and its policies, which have weakened the US dollar.”
3. George Galloway
Across the pond, British politician George Galloway, Mayoral candidate for London, publicly announced his plans to leverage blockchain technology to track the Mayor of London’s expenditure in a bid for greater transparency.
Galloway is pledging to run the capital’s £17bn ($26.4bn) budget on MayorsChain; a blockchain-based public expenditure management system.
The eccentric candidate said on his funding page:
“Now, for the first time, the radically disruptive technology of blockchains can provide a technological backbone for true, 100 percent transparency. Political accountability, it seems, is about to take on a whole new meaning.”
4. Andrew Hemingway
Andrew Hemingway, a Republican running for Governor in New Hampshire, has also proposed the use of blockchain tech during elections.
Hemingway spoke about the potential of distributed ledger technologies for voting after a Twitter follower asked about his views on voting IDs – a law that requires voters to have some form of identification before voting or receiving an election ballot.
— Andrew Hemingway (@AndrewHemingway) July 10, 2014
Elsewhere, blockchain tech is also being eyed by parties in an attempt to transform the way in which voting takes place. Denmark’s Liberal Alliance announced it was using blockchain tech for an internal vote at the party’s annual meeting in Copenhagen.
5. Gulnar Hasnain
Gulnar Hasnain, a Green Party candidate running for Vauxhall, a district in Central London, became the first mainstream political candidate to accept bitcoin in the UK earlier this year.
In an interview with CoinDesk, Hasnain noted she would like to draw attention to the positive aspects of blockchain technology and its potential to “transform democracy worldwide”, adding there were many similarities between her party and the principles of distributed ledger technologies.
“Surprisingly, the Green Party is vocal on the same issues as the bitcoin movement – more decentralised power, smaller government, a need for a shift in the concentration of power in the banking system and a more inclusive society.”
6. Rand Paul
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who officially announced his bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, started to accept bitcoin donations in April this year.
Describing him as a “firebrand libertarian”, The Washington Post also dubbed his decision to accept donations in the digital currency a “genius political move“.
The move – which sparked a media frenzy – came as a surprise to many as the candidate had previously shown a degree of skepticism about the digital currency.
During a TechCrunch panel earlier this year, Paul said he was “an outlier” on “the bitcoin things”.
Paul confirmed his skepticism in a Bloomberg News report, saying: “I’ve been fascinated by the concept of it, but I never would have purchased it myself. I’m just a little bit skeptical.”
7. Rick Perry
Bitcoin welcomed another supporter from the political sphere just last month.
US presidential candidate Rick Perry shared his stance on bitcoin during an interview with The New York Observer, in which he stated his support for “regulatory breathing room” for digital currencies such as bitcoin.
While all the above politicians have talked the talk, we’re yet to see whether they will walk the walk – will they take a pro-bitcoin or pro-blockchain stance if they gain a position of power? Or will all their encouraging remarks turn out to merely be one big publicity stunt? Watch this space.
Politician image via Shutterstock