On Thursday July 31, 2014 Perianne M. Boring spoke at the NYC Bitcoin Center about the newly formed Chamber of Digital Commerce. The “Digital Chamber” or “DC” seeks to promote and advocate for digital currencies among lawmakers and the general public. Their strategy is 3-fold: 

“First, the DC will offer a full suite of government affairs services dedicated to promoting digital currencies in Washington.  Second, the Digital Chamber will have a public affairs office working to make ‘bitcoin’ a household name and serving as a resource to the media. Finally, this organization is building a third-party coalition to advocate on behalf of digital currencies and growing a grassroots network of supporters.”

- Ms. Boring presenting the Chamber of Digital Commerce

As a non-profit organization, the Chamber of Digital Commerce has a decentralized balance of powers that lies between the Executive Committee Board and the Advisory Board. The Executive Committee will be composed of industry leaders who will fund the efforts in Washington and the Advisory Board will help steer the message of the Chamber’s policies. 

The Digital Chamber just opened their doors a few weeks ago and is in the earliest phases of setting up shop. Boring did not have plans to get involved with policy initiatives this year, rather the next several months have been dedicated to recruiting membership and hiring and training staff. In addition, the Digital Chamber is a national organization committed to federal issues.  However, the New York proposed BitLicense regulations are so important to the future of the industry that the Digital Chamber is getting involved on a grassroots level. 

They have published a petition on their website asking the New York Department of Financial Services extend the comment period through the end of 2014.  They are also encouraging as many people as possible to submit comments directly to the NYDFS.

Here are a few selected quotes from the presentation:

“At the end of the day, regulators regulate and whether you agree with the political process or not, if we don’t engage with them we risk regulatory catastrophe.”

“So while getting involved in politics could be considered the ‘dirty work,’ somebody’s got to do it.”

“If we had an organization like this 6 months or a year ago, the NYC BitLicense potentially could have looked very different today.”

“We plan to be the authoritative voice for Bitcoin in Washington. Our job is to co-ordinate between industry and public policy makers.”

Ms. Boring’s presentation concluded with a Q & A with the audience, which brought forth a mixed reaction. The majority of the crowd was supportive of the initiative. But a few did express their thoughts that not much good can come from working with regulators and politicians.  However, if Amir Taaki were present, he might have challenged this initiative with much more scrutiny.

We sat down with Perianne after the presentation for a few questions about her organization and her views on the Bitcoin ecosystem.

Cointelegraph: What are your personal experiences with Bitcoin? Are you an avid user and do you see it as a store of value even in today’s volatile climate?

Perianne Boring: I do own bitcoins, the majority of my financial assets are in bitcoin, and I use bitcoin as often as I can. I love using Bitcoin. It is faster, cheaper and easier to use than credit cards.  The more I use it, the more I like it, and I am excited to see alternative uses of the blockchain evolve above and beyond a payment system.  

If things go to plan, in the long-term, the volatility we’re seeing today will seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things.   

CT: Can you elaborate on the criticism that you get from the die hard Bitcoin Purists and their views that Bitcoin should just be left alone and that nothing good can come from working with regulators or politicians.  Bitcoin has made it this far without them and it might even achieve greater things by ignoring regulation.

PB: You referenced Amir Taaki in the beginning of your interview.  I would like to point out that Taaki believes, Political neutrality is a myth. Calling a technology politically neutral is a dangerous lie meant to serve an agenda. Bitcoin was created to serve a highly political intent, a free and uncensored network where all can participate with equal access. A free market ethic” The goals of the Chamber are in line with this thinking.

It is irresponsible and naïve for the community not to get involved with policy makers. The regulations that come out of Washington will greatly affect the future of the industry. At the least, regulation will shape the direction the industry moves, but more importantly, regulation could stifle innovation. 

In the words of Amir Taaik, “We haven't even begun to explore the true possibilities of this new technology of the blockchain.” This is the reason the industry needs to set up firewalls: to protect bitcoin from regulatory risk. Ill-advised government regulation could put artificial limits on the direction the blockchain’s technology is built out. New York’s BitLicense is a perfect example. Here is one unrealistic statute out of 40 pages of regs:

Section 200.10 “Each Licensee must obtain the superintendent’s prior written approval for any plan or proposal to introduce or offer a new product, service, or activity, or to make a material change to an existing product, service, or activity, involving New York or New York Residents.”

Bitcoin is still in the earliest phases of development and businesses are building the basic infrastructure for the industry. Companies are constantly adding new features and products. What constitutes a material change? These are not static products and services.

Examples of crushing provisions could go on and on. This threatens to destroy Bitcoin. Numerous businessmen have told me they are ready to block out all New York IPs from their servers and will not do business in this jurisdiction if these proposed regulations are enacted.  Some may say, so what, this is just one state and Bitcoin is much bigger than New York.  I agree, however, New York is arguably the financial capital of the world and historically New York sets the stage and tone for other state’s financial regulations, federal regulation and the numerous countries around the world that look to the US’ lead on financial policy.

If history repeats itself, these regulations out of New York will become the federal standard and could be adopted around the globe.  What are businesses going to do then?  Do we really want to be narrowed down to an informal economy?  Bitcoin has the potential to be much greater than that. 

- Bitcoin Center NYC

CT: You said you are looking for a “Top Tier Team of Public Relations Professionals” to serve on your Advisory Board.  Is there any consideration to adding some avid Bitcoin users who will not come with any political ties or corporate interest to provide an alternative voice? (A voice usually missed when looking to create policy)

PB: Our budget allows us to hire a team of 10 people. Anyone who is interested in working at the Digital Chamber is welcome to send their resume to the contact information posted on the website. We will consider anyone who upholds our meticulously high standards for integrity and authenticity. 

CT: You mentioned during the presentation that the Board Members will be represented by Bitcoin Companies, who are also responsible for funding the foundation with their dues.  Is there any concern that this would be a way for these already established Bitcoin companies to get their preferred regulation to the politicians through your lobbyists?

PB:  No, the Executive Committee will pay for the majority of the member dues, but we also have a General Membership available for smaller businesses that may not have the same resources as the larger established players.  Both the Executive Committee Board and General Members will play a role in the Chamber’s policy discussions and initiatives.  

While the Executive Committee is the policy-making body, the Digital Chamber's stated standards, to which we all are deeply committed, is that it only will accept as Executive Committee members applicants who demonstrably are dedicated to the flourishing of the entire sector.  The credibility, and therefore effectiveness, of the Chamber depends on honoring this commitment.

There is a tragedy of the commons issue we have to address here.  Due to Bitcoin’s decentralized properties, naturally there is no one company to take responsibility for promoting Bitcoin in general.  The Digital Chamber pools industry resources to work on issues that the entire Bitcoin community will benefit from.  

I spent a considerable amount of time and resources conducting the market research necessary to build something that has never been seen before, a political organization for a non-political industry, a centralized communication channel for a decentralized technology, and firewalls for encrypted security protocol. 

I am very confident that the Digital Chamber has the most effective and efficient strategy to mitigate political and regulatory risk.

CT: Do you have anything else to add?

PB: It’s very important that we have the community’s support for this organization because there is so much work to do in Washington. We are already behind and have a lot of reputational challenges to overcome.

Washington is wrapping red tape around the blockchain.  To prevent a sea of further regulations, we are calling on the responsible stewards of this industry to put forth the resources necessary to mitigate regulations that could make it difficult and expensive for businesses to operate in this space.

In return, I pledge to be a responsible steward of industry resources and run a transparent organization.

Bonus Personal Question: Do you think your Florida Gators have a chance against my FSU Seminoles in the upcoming College Football Season?

PB: Oh Gosh, I hope so, last year was a disaster!

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