Blockchain is permeating the world’s spheres of influence. A Congressional group dedicated to studying the technology underpinning the bitcoin cryptocurrency was set up Sept. 26 by two congressmen. The Congressional Blockchain Caucus was formed by Jared Polis, a Democrat congressman from Colorado and longtime bitcoin believer, and Mick Mulvaney, a Republican representing South Carolina.
The role of the caucus (officially known as congressional member organizations) is to get other legislators up to speed on a subject in the hopes of formulating future laws that affect that niche. It’s a bit like a club in high school where people of similar interests gather to discuss the issues of the day in their particular area. “The blockchain has boundless potential,” Polis said in a statement announcing the caucus’ formation.
Blockchain technology is shaking up high finance as banks rush to implement solutions that they believe will save them billions in back-office costs, for services like coordinating syndicated loans, and clearing and settling securities transactions. Outside finance, blockchain is also gaining traction in areas as diverse as tracking copyright of images, and the provenance of diamonds. It’s a far cry from the tech’s early days associated with bitcoin and contraband markets like the Silk Road. “The Blockchain Caucus will focus on raising awareness, advancing ideas that foster growth, and safeguarding consumers,” Polis said.
Caucuses have little authority, despite being official entities that must receive approval from a congressional committee before they can be registered. A caucus can’t hire its own staff or have its own office space, and must usually be supported by resources borrowed from its members. There seems to be a caucus for everything, as the Atlantic has pointed out, noting the formation of the Congressional Modeling and Simulation Caucus, the Congressional Bourbon Caucus, and the Congressional Boating Caucus, among others.
Whether a caucus is influential or not depends on how …