There is no doubt about the growing importance and interest in Blockchain technology in the US. It is therefore of no surprise that, in early March 2020, there will be a hearing in the American House of Representatives, regarding the role Blockchain technology can play for small businesses. Titled, “The Building Blocks of Change: The Benefits of Blockchain Technology for Small Businesses,” the hearing will explore the ways in which some start-ups are utilising Blockchain technology to boost productivity and increase security.
Also, in the US, a new FinTech firm called Figure has turned to a puppet mascot (four grey blocks with metal chains on its sides) as a way to explain how Blockchain technology can help. Figure enables its clients to use a Blockchain-powered platform to borrow against the equity in their homes, thus reducing paperwork and speed up the time it takes to carry out an equity release scheme.
As part of its promotional efforts, Figure may have turned to puppets, but its founders would appear not to be muppets, as Figure is now valued at over $1billion! In the advertisements Figure is running, the Blockchain character acknowledges most people do not understand the technology. “You’ve either heard of me, and you don’t know what I do, or you’ve never heard of me, and you don’t know what I do.” Wow, how true is this?
Also interesting to note is that one of the UK challenger banks, Revolut, will now be available in 50 States across America. When talking about its recent announcement, Dan Westgarth from Revolut said,
“It’s easy to buy stocks or bonds, even cryptocurrency, but for an unsophisticated investor to gain exposure to commodities is almost impossible. So, if there was a token pegged to diamonds or gold, this could be very appealing”.
Is this a hint of what is to come? After all, it is amazing that the products needed to build our modern world can typically only be bought and sold a few hours a day five days a week. Many commodities have narrow windows in which they can be traded, whereas Digital Assets backed by different commodities could potentially trade 24/7/365, improving liquidity, and reducing volatility. Thus, it is not difficult to see why the world’s biggest economy, the US, is increasingly looking at how it can harness Blockchain technology and Digital Assets.
However, the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) continues to ‘show its teeth’ by ensuring that those involved with the promotion of `Digital Assets do so only with the confines of existing regulations. The actor Steven Seagal, who has had to fight his way out of many tricky situations whilst on film sets, was less successful battling against the SEC. Seagal has agreed to pay $157,000 in costs, and the investigation is still running! While Digital Assets are being heralded as a type of asset class, they will still need to comply with long-establishedd SEC guidance and rules.