Legislators Urge US Treasury to Look At Blockchain for COVID-19 Relief.

Eleven individuals from Congress are approaching the U.S. Treasury Department to take a gander at new innovations, including blockchain and dispersed record innovation (DLT), to help smooth out how money and supplies are disseminated under a government law attempting to support the economy during the COVID-19 emergency.

A letter routed to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin focuses to blockchain and DLT as secure “new components” for moving cash rapidly and straightforwardly, which could thusly help liquidity in appropriating reserves by means of the government CARES Act.

U.S. Congressman Darren Soto (D-Fla.) led the letter, dated April 23 yet discharged freely on Tuesday.

Reps. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Warren Davidson (R-Ohio), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio), Bill Posey (R-Fla.) and Ben McAdams (D-Utah) and Delegate Stacey Plaskett (D-U.S. Virgin Islands) all joined Soto in marking the letter.

“We comprehend your essential strategic to convey critical and vital help to America’s private ventures and working families,” the letter says. “As the pandemic keeps on affecting the economy, we anticipate supporting the Administration’s endeavors to get American independent ventures running while additionally organizing wellbeing, security, and legitimate oversight.”

However, the letter says, the Treasury Department can take “additional steps” to improve its efforts.

“We thus strongly encourage the Treasury Department to utilize private sector innovations such as blockchain and DLT to support the necessary functions of government to distribute and track relief programs and direct that all guidance support the use of technology to facilitate delivery of CARES Act benefits,” the letter says. “Such steps will ensure both that America retains its technological advantage and that relief is delivered quickly to the small businesses and individuals who need it most.”

The letter points to China’s rollout of its own blockchain system as an example of other nations pursuing the same technology.

Why blockchain?

Soto, who co-chairs the Congressional Blockchain Caucus, told CoinDesk he had spoken with developers, entrepreneurs and other members of the caucus in drafting the letter. 

In his view, blockchain or DLT tools might be the most secure ones available to solve some logistical challenges the federal government is facing in distributing funds and other supplies.

Blockchain-based systems could be coupled with artificial intelligence (AI) to better manage the data being tracked or transmitted, he said.

“It works so well in hand with artificial intelligence and it’s not subject to hacking or changes once you have that fixed ledger down,” he said. 

Soto sees AI as a supplementary tool, rather than something to take charge of a distribution network. Policymakers would still need to set strict parameters and humans would still have to act as administrators for such a system, he said. 

“We could see greater speed and efficiency right now,” he said of the proposed system. 

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, there is a lot more demand for certain goods than there is supply, and having individuals manage their distribution is a difficult task. 

“I believe it’s worth at least doing pilot programs,” Soto said. The results of these pilots can inform what a next step might look like, he said, though he’s not looking to immediately replace existing systems with blockchain-based versions just yet.

This is a good time to start the conversation, Soto said. 

“During this terrible crisis there are certain opportunities to advance technologies,” he said. “This presents us with an opportunity to potentially get greater efficiency for a lot of these logistical issues.”


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