I’m reviewing the 2010s in Bitcoin. This is the story about 2019 in Bitcoin. Read about 2018 here.
2019 saw Wyoming enact sound blockchain legislation, Bakkt launch, and further normalization of Bitcoin into global financial markets. Here’s 2019 in Bitcoin.
Wyoming’s Blockchain Legislation
The biggest news story of 2019 could very well be the work done in the State of Wyoming towards robust and progressive blockchain legislation. Establishing itself as the only US state “to provide a comprehensive, welcoming legal framework that enables blockchain technology to flourish,” as Caitlin Long wrote on Forbes.com, Wyoming enacted in March altogether 13 blockchain-friendly laws.
Long, who is a Forbes Senior Contributor and co-founder of the Wyoming Blockchain Coalition, worked with legislators and senators, such as Wyoming State Representative, Tyler Lindholm, Senator Ogden Driskill, and Senator Tara Nethercott, on the bills.
“Wyoming spotted an opportunity to lead in this field last year, and realized it had just as many advantages in competing for this nascent industry as any other place – and more so,” Long explained. “Blockchain is software, so it’s global. A line of code doesn’t care who wrote it or where it was written. As Joe Lubin said when he spoke at WyoHackathon last fall, there’s no reason why the next Google can’t be here in Wyoming.”
Long explained: “In a nutshell, that’s what Wyoming has now done for blockchain technology.”
Wyoming’s move put it at the forefront of digital asset regulation in the U.S., with over a dozen other U.S. states, as well as Congress, considering implementing Wyoming-inspired legislation. The laws recognized direct property rights for digital asset owners, created a regulatory sandbox, and authorized a new state-chartered depository institution that provides basic banking services to blockchain and other businesses. The bank must keep 100% reserves, cannot give out loans, and is available only to business depositors. The laws also enabled Wyoming banks to act as a digital asset custodian.
Wyoming now classifies digital assets in three categories, including digital securities, digital assets, and virtual currencies. Cryptocurrencies in the state are therefore treated as money.
Bakkt, a Bitcoin futures trading exchange, launched on September 23. “On the first day of trading on ICE Futures U.S., there was strong industry participation in Bakkt Bitcoin Futures and the [October 2019] monthly contract had the tightest bid-offer spreads in the market, which was an exciting achievement,” a Bakkt spokesperson told Forbes.com contributor Benjamin Pirus. “As the only end-to-end regulated market for digital assets, Bakkt Bitcoin Futures will play a key role in bringing greater price discovery and risk management to the [b]itcoin market.”
Bakkt’s CEO, Kelly Loeffler, was appointed in December to a seat in the US Senate representing Georgia. She was just the second woman in the state’s history to hold the position.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) picked Loeffler for a seat occupied by U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R), who retired at year’s end due to health issues. Loeffler is to be sworn into office on Jan 1. 2020, and plans to run in the next primary election to maintain her seat. Loeffler stepped down as Bakkt CEO before taking the oath of office, becomes the second woman in the state’s history to hold the position.
The day after the launch, the price of Bitcoin fell more than $1,000.
BSDEX Introduces Bitcoin Trading Platform
The second-largest German Stock Exchange, Börse Stuttgart, introduced a regulated bitcoin trading platform. It is Germany’s first regulated trading venue for digital assets where investors’ orders are executed directly against each other according to fixed rules, explained Börse Stuttgart Digital Exchange GmbH.
“As of now, selected users in Germany can connect directly to the trading venue, where they can trade the bitcoin-euro pair initially,” reads a press release. BSDEX will open over time to retail and institutional investors.
“BSDEX will give retail and institutional investors direct access to digital assets and provide flexible and relatively low-cost trading,” said Peter Grosskopf, CTO at Boerse Stuttgart Digital Exchange GmbH.
Bitcoin Can’t Die
Patrick McHenry, a US Congressman from the 10th District of North Carolina, shared thoughts on how Bitcoin can’t die and Facebook’s Libra is a copycat coin.
“I think there’s no capacity to kill Bitcoin,” he said. “Even the Chinese with their Firewall and their extreme intervention on their society cannot kill Bitcoin. So, distributed ledger, full and open, in the essence of Bitcoin, as a first mover in the space, the developer of this technology… […] My point here is, you can’t kill Bitcoin.”
He added: “New iterations of this, that are trying to mimic it, they are not fully distributed, they are not fully open, there are different mechanisms to kill it…the essence of Bitcoin is what Facebook and Libra, and other corporations are trying to mimic.”
Happy New Year!