A look at how cryptocurrency is benefiting New York

John Olsen is the New York State head for the Blockchain Association, which represents the interests of the cryptocurrency industry. The association has campaigned for reform of the restrictive state licensing regime for virtual currencies and unsuccessfully campaigned against the passage of the Bitcoin Mining Moratorium Act.

What are the benefits of cryptocurrencies for New York State?

Cryptocurrency and blockchain have started opening new doors to financial wealth and offering alternatives to traditional financial services for the unbanked and unbanked. As an industry, we are really trying to push a general financial education and financial education program to educate people about the ability of cryptocurrency and blockchain to take a different financial path than going through traditional banking and financial institutions. Despite the challenges in New York, I think we’ve seen more and more people embrace cryptocurrency as a digital asset and as an investment, a long-term investment.

Is bitcoin really a good long-term investment if it goes from over $60,000 towards the end of 2021 to around $20,000 this year?

I think the last year has shown that the cryptocurrency market, while still very new, is highly speculative at this point. That’s out of the question. If you invested in bitcoin at its peak, chances are you lost a significant amount of money. But that is the nature of speculative markets. I think you’d find that if you bought Netflix and a bunch of tech stocks, you’d be equally in the red. It’s just been a bad year for markets in general.

It’s been a very difficult time for the industry, but it’s also been an opportunity to weed out the bad players like those we saw last year and it’s an opportunity to educate policymakers about the breadth and diversity of the industry, instead of just talking about bitcoin or bitcoin mining.

Speaking of bitcoin mining, have you supported MP Anna Kelles’ bitcoin mining moratorium bill?

No, we were very much opposed to this bill. From the point of view of politicians, the bill appeared as a solution in search of a problem. More specifically, it was a bill that only targeted cryptocurrency when considering energy consumption. Proponents will say, well, this is our attempt to prevent old Peaker plants from being fired up again in upstate New York. However, it didn’t appear that this was a business model that would repeat itself. There was no sense that the model Greenidge adopted was something that would simply be adopted on a large scale. And there have been advocates, even lawmakers, saying don’t be surprised if we now try to ban all cryptocurrency mining in New York. If you just banned bitcoin mining in New York outright, I think that would be way, way overkill to address some of the challenges that come with this new industry. Picking winners and losers when it comes to energy consumption is not good policy.

Do you think politicians have become more hostile to the cryptocurrency industry over the past year?

It’s hard to tell how much the folks at FTX paid attention to anything beyond the headlines. So is there increased stigma? It is possible. I think you just reinforced the opinions of opponents in general. But what I’ve found in conversations with new members and younger members is that the underlying technology and potential applications for it are more likely to be embraced. Once the industry moves away from the purely speculative nature of cryptocurrency, the ability to buy and sell currencies on exchanges, and we get into the actual utility of some of the projects that fund these native tokens, things will get a little more exciting and people are a little more open to the possibilities.