Andrew Yang, the Democratic Party front-runner in the race to be New York’s next mayor said he would transform New York City into “a hub for BTC and other cryptocurrencies” noting the city to be “the world’s financial capital.”
The former presidential candidate made the comment in a tweet earlier today which drew a flurry of mixed reactions, with some proclaiming it to be a campaign-selling maneuver and others equating it to political suicide.
The most unifying reaction, however, was the demand that Yang use his powers, if elected, to end the BitLicense, enacted by the New York Department of Financial Services. Meltem Demirors, CSO of digital assets management company CoinShares, suggested Yang would need to deal with bo high state taxes and the Bitlicense to make his plan a reality.
In a recent interview with Forbes, Miami mayor Francis Suarez discussed the possibility of paying city employees in Bitcoin to encourage cryptocurrency adoption in the area. Yang actually floated a similar idea in a Sept. 2019 interview, describing the benefits of a government-issued, digitally-based “social currency” which could be exchanged 1:1 with the U.S. dollar.
Yang is currently is leading the Democratic field in popularity and name recognition among voters according to recent polling that saw him streets ahead of Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and City Comptroller Scott Stringer.
In sharp contrast to most of his political peers, Yang has vocalized his support for Bitcoin several times in the two years he has been on the mainstream media’s radar. His outspoken beliefs have earned him the title of “Best President for Bitcoin” from some in the cryptocurrency community.
New York has a tumultuous relationship with Bitcoin. The introduction of the BitLicense in 2015 was initially regarded as something of a disaster, potentially stifling the innovation of fintech by imposing draconian restrictions on cryptocurrency use. By 2020, however, the fruits of regulation were paying off with the regulatory clarity under the Bitlicense enabling corporate giants like PayPal, Gemini and Coinbase to attract the deep pockets of Wall Street.
In 2019, during the lead up to his presidential run, Yang argued that congress lacks the basic knowledge required to enact effective cryptocurrency legislation, and that countries which are ahead of the U.S. in regulation will eventually “(dictate) the rules that we’ll need to follow once we catch up.”
Yang was reportedly on the short list of potential nominees to fill the Secretary of Commerce position under the Biden administration. Receiving just 0.45% of the vote in the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primary, Yang dropped out of the race on Feb. 11 2020, endorsing Biden the following month. In January he announced he was running for Mayor of New York.