U.S. Congressman Jared Polis took time out from his busy campaign schedule recently to meet with representatives, including CEOs, from nine digital currencies companies including itBit and Blockchain.
Organized by the Washington, D.C.-based advocacy and education group Coin Center, the roundtable was an attempt to bridge the gap between the world of Washington and Congress and the world of fintech and digital currencies.
Coin Center Executive Director Jerry Brito, who chaired the meeting, was happy with the outcome and told Bitcoin Magazine:
“We visit policymakers in D.C. often to talk about these issues, but there’s no substitute for having them come out and meet the actual innovators who are building these great companies and technologies. I think Rep. Polis learned a lot about what these companies do and the regulatory issues they’re facing, and they learned a bit more about what it takes to move policy in government.”
Rep. Polis is an acknowledged “thought leader” for the digital currency movement and has made a name for himself in the community with his ongoing support for Bitcoin.
Polis was one of the first to take advantage of a Federal Election Commission ruling that political candidates can now accept donations in bitcoin and has “Now Accepting Bitcoin!” on his website.
“It was a very productive meeting. Polis really ‘gets’ digital currencies.
He has tech DNA, something that is still too rare in D.C.,” Blockchain’s Marco Santori, who attended the meeting, told Bitcoin Magazine.
“Encouragingly, whenever the small group of entrepreneurs and policy experts in the meeting would register generalized grievances, Polis would respond with very specific proposed solutions,” Santori said. “I think this kind of meeting will lead to improvements for digital currencies companies in the future.”
It’s an election year in the U.S., and Rep. Polis is seeking re-election in Colorado’s 2nd District, but he wants to get started immediately making sure that digital currencies startups are being served by government and not strangled by regulatory red tape.
“We have a policymaker who is genuinely excited about this technology taking the time to meet with the community at the forefront of making it successful,” said Brito. “The idea of a U.S. representative taking Bitcoin so seriously was laughable as little as a few years ago. This meeting shows just how quickly it is growing toward the mainstream.
“It’s a major indicator of the technology’s growing significance that such a meeting took place to begin with. The technology has grown and its industry has become mainstream to the point where congressmen are meeting with leaders from it.”
Rep. Polis’s interest in digital currencies comes from a lifelong passion for technology and the Internet.
While in college, Polis started his first tech company, American Information Systems, and in 2006 founded Techstars, a Colorado-based startup accelerator.
“Rep. Polis has been an engaged and vocal supporter of Bitcoin innovation for some time now. This event gives him and the people building on this technology an opportunity to meet, exchange ideas, and learn from each other,” added Brito.
Companies that met with Congressman Polis included AlphaPoint, Blockchain, Case, Chain Code, Digital Currency Group, itBit, Onename, SolidX Partners Inc., and Union Square Ventures.
Jessie Willms is a planet earth based former government and political researcher and communications officer helping to document the FinTech revolution and its impact on traditional institutions and governments. You can follow Jessie on Twitter at @WILLMS_.