Business 21 January 2019

Erik Gibbs

Wyoming could be ready to embrace crypto as money

The U.S. state of Wyoming has always been the first in equality. It was the first state to allow women to vote and its official motto is even “Equal Rights.” Always the pioneers, several of the state’s lawmakers are behind legislation that would give equal rights to cryptocurrencies and put them on the same legal level as the U.S. dollar. 

A bill, Digital Assets-Existing Law (in pdf), has been introduced by Wyoming Senator Tara Nethercott and five other state representatives. If approved, it would see digital assets categorized as one of three classes – securities, assets and currency – and the bill’s sponsors assert that crypto should fall under the currency category. 

In an interview with Forbes, Nethercrott stated, “The time is now to provide the pathway for blockchain and cryptocurrencies, and Wyoming has the nimbleness and responsiveness to the needs of these industries to respond accordingly to the growing and adapting landscapes of cryptocurrency.”

Certain cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin Core (BTC), would be classified as money, allowing their transactions to be interest free in accordance with Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). It would also extend property rights to crypto owners, which would mean that peer-to-peer transactions would be made available without the need of an intermediary. 

The bill also hopes to introduce the legal framework with which banks could set their crypto custodial policies. Financial institutions would have the ability to offer custodial solutions that would be similar to those currently offered for mainstream securities and these would fall under the auspices of the Custody of Funds or Securities by Investment Advisors, the framework provided by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). As such, the banks would be able, if they so choose, to offer crypto custodial solutions across the country. 

Wyoming has seen the future and appears to be more willing to embrace it than others. Lawmakers in the state have worked on several crypto- and blockchain-related bills, including the Corporate Stock-Certificate Tokens (in pdf) bill that is currently being considered. If it is approved, companies would be able to issue share certificates over the blockchain. Last December, the state also approved a blockchain banking bill that allows banks to offer financial services using blockchain-based assets. It passed by an overwhelming margin, 13-1.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.

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