Tech

Steve Kaaru

Regulations not necessary for blockchain: Austrian economics minister

While many have called on governments to regulate the blockchain industry to spur growth, an Austrian minister is of a different opinion. Margarete Schramböck, the Austrian Minister for Digital and Economic Affairs, believes regulation is not necessary. The most important thing currently is to grow the technology and test it extensively.

Schramböck was one of the members of a panel discussing the role of government in blockchain during the ANON Blockchain Summit. The other panelists were Josef Vasak from the European Commission and Hyperledger’s Marta Piekarska.

One of the hot topics of discussion was blockchain voting. While many have praised the process and hailed it as the future, its use is still very low. Blockchain voting is yet to stage a major national election. Despite its benefits, it’s still in a nascent stage and many governments are not prepared to take the plunge.

Blockchain voting is unlikely to take place any time soon, either in Austria or the EU, Vasak said. The individual countries should be allowed to move at their own pace where elections are concerned, he added. According to him, the use of blockchain could also overcomplicate a simple process for those not well-versed with modern technology.

However, it was Schramböck who grabbed the headlines with her views on the need for regulation. She advocated for a more liberal attitude towards blockchain. Europe has been the architect of its own stunted growth in tech with its regulatory structure, she added saying, “Europe has a strong tendency to overregulate. And then we are surprised that there are no European companies in the top 10 worldwide.”

Granted, the government must protect consumers, she went on. However, this should not be an excuse to derail the growth of the young blockchain industry. “We do not need regulations for blockchain,” Schramböck stated.

Piekarska, an executive at Hyperledger concurred with the minister. After all, no one is calling for strict regulations for machine learning and AI, she argued. Why then should it be any different for blockchain? 

The minister further revealed that she is a great blockchain enthusiast. She intends to use it increasingly in her ministry to simplify most processes. It could also greatly aid the exchange of information between private companies and the government. 

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as SegWitCoin BTC coins. Altcoins, which value privacy, anonymity, and distance from government intervention, are referenced as dark coins.

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