Microsoft, USAA Join DC Blockchain Policy Group

Stan Higgins
May 2, 2016 at 11:58 UTC
Updated May 2, 2016 at 14:06 UTC
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DC

Tech giant Microsoft and military-focused banking and insurance firm USAA are among the newest members of the Chamber of Digital Commerce, a policy advocacy group focused on blockchain technology.

Founded in mid-2014, the non-profit lobbying group has spent the time since pushing for fair regulation and oversight in Washington, DC for companies working on bitcoin or blockchain applications. The group is led by Perianne Boring, a former Forbes columnist and Capitol Hill staffer. More recently, the Chamber was one of the founding organizations behind the Blockchain Alliance, a public-private forum aimed at promoting cooperation between industry stakeholders and government agencies.

Joining Microsoft and USAA are startups Bloq and Symbiont, the former a technology startup co-founded by Bitcoin Core contributor Jeff Garzik and the latter a company focused on blockchain capital markets applications.

Each company, according to the CDC, is joining the group’s Executive Committee and pitching in $50,000 in financial support.

In interview, Boring said that as the group looks to shape blockchain policy in Washington in the year ahead, firms like USAA and Microsoft – which by nature of their business models regularly interact with government regulators – are bringing a relevant expertise to the table.

USAA was one of several major companies to take part in Coinbase’s $75m Series C funding round, and later worked with the US-based startup on a pilot program that allowed USAA customers to view their bitcoin balances directly through its online dashboard. That feature was rolled out to all members following a positive response to the pilot.

Boring said that as a regulated financial services firm, USAA brings a wide range of relevant experience to the CDC table, telling CoinDesk:

“We see USAA as one of the most innovative and forward-thinking banks in this space. So obviously with that, a lot of the policy challenges and questions and compliance points are issues we’ll be working on with them.”

The firm did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Technology push

The other members joining the group – Microsoft, Bloq and Symbiont – are bringing experience from the technology perspective. What each of them share, alongside the existing members of the Chamber, is a need to get involved with blockchain-related policy developments in Washington.

“Most of the serious players in this industry are looking at their regulatory and public policy challenges. So that’s why they’re working with the Chamber to work through these common industries,” she told CoinDesk.

Matt Roszak, co-founder of Bloq alongside Garzik, spoke to that sentiment in describing Bloq’s bid to join the nonprofit organization.

“Through my experience in working in technology and finance, engagement with public policymakers is critical for industry growth and success,” he said.

Mark Smith, CEO of Symbiont, echoed those remarks, saying that without concerted outreach efforts, “[the technology] will always be limited.”

In interview, Boring highlighted Microsoft’s position in the technology space – and its relevant experience working on the regulatory front.

“They ensure that their products can find a market, and they see value in having a coalition consortium-type organization to use as a platform to address these kinds of challenges,” said Boring.

In a statement, Marley Gray, who leads Microsoft’s blockchain business development and strategy efforts said, spoke to the need for the industry to collaborate on lobbying as the technology sees wider use.

He said:

“We firmly believe industry collaborations are critical to bringing distributed ledger technology to market.”

Image via Shutterstock