Mayor Eric Adams compared the rise of cryptocurrencies with the life cycle of the Amazon rainforest.
“If you look at the rainforest floors, you’ll see dead trees and vines that are fertilizers for new growth,” he said in an interview with Gotamist. “The fear people have around crypto is that they think it’s the death of how you do business or how you do commerce.”
But in fact, he predicted that the end of old practices would pave the way for “future commerce.”
“It’s a transformation,” he added.
The Mayor of New York has traditionally pursued pet economic development projects. However, in recent memory, few are as lively and polarized as cryptocurrencies (decentralized banking systems based on digital currencies). A $ 2 trillion global industry has invaded Wall Street, ranking environmentalists and spurring regulatory concerns about potential speculative bubbles. Cryptocurrency companies have gained more political influence in recent months and are strengthening lobbying at the state and federal levels.
Although the industry is regulated by the state, players also help Adams, who raised at least $ 200,000 from cryptographic donors between 2018 and 2021, according to a Gotamist analysis of his campaign filing. I poured it. Dozens of donors include Daniel Loeb, who turned from a millionaire hedge funder to a crypto enthusiast, Steve Cohen, the owner of Mets, and investors Cameron and Tyler Winklebos, Facebook. Includes twin brothers of fame.
Indeed, since taking office, Adams has increased his influence as one of the leading political influencers in the crypto industry. He fulfilled his campaign promise to convert the first three salaries into Bitcoin and Ethereum. These are two popular but unstable cryptocurrencies. He advertised the potential of blockchain, a public database that can reliably store and track documents, to end certificate fraud. And as the second black mayor of a working-class city, he firmly accepted the crypto promise of being a great financial equalizer.
Adams has an oversized platform to promote crypto as the mayor of the country’s largest city, but experts say it’s just a cheerleader because the industry is regulated by the country. ..
Depending on who you ask, the mayor’s belief in cryptography is either stupid hype or great branding.
“It fits the persona he’s trying to create,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a veteran political consultant. “He is the old and new mayor, the mayor of Ayumu vs. self-satisfaction.”
Industry skeptics warn that the technology sector is generally pushing the boundaries of legal and ethical behaviour. Crypto has already created a warning story.For example, I stole one coin from a company $ 4 billion from investorsWill be the most notorious crypto ponzi scheme ever.
“I think you have an archetypal attitude that is generally very disdainful to government regulators and even democracy,” said Uber, an excellent government group. John Kaehny, Executive Director of Reinvent Albany, said.Until recently, ride-hailing service companies have been engaged in nearly a decade of fighting city regulatory attempts. Agree to list yellow taxis With that app.
“One of the crypto claims is that it somehow puts you out of the reach of the government,” he added. “It’s not a really great ad for good civic behavior.”
Earlier this month, Adams raised his eyebrows when he attended a crypto conference in Miami. One-day visit — included a self-proclaimed vegan enjoying dinner at, funded by city taxpayers Steak house — Occurred when there were a large number of crime-focused headlines at home.
Adams spoke with Gotamist to defend the timing of the meeting, stating that it was pre-planned and traveling nationwide to explore new economic opportunities in the city was an important part of his work. rice field. He added that he entrusted the head of his agency with the day-to-day management of the city.
“This is right for me,” he said.
Democrats support Adams’ cryptocurrency Split How to approach a fast-growing sector that is gaining more acceptance among Republicans in the professional business.
Critics, led by Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, warned that the industry was vulnerable to fraud and called for the enormous energy needed by most blockchains to validate transactions. inspection.
At the local level, Jumane Williams, a public advocate for the city running as a progressive candidate for governor, said that crypto energy consumption reduces carbon emissions as a result of the mining industry. Said that it was against the goal of.
He called on Governor Kathy Hokul to put a moratorium on cryptocurrency mining.
In the Finger Lakes area of New York, environmentalists have spent more than a year protesting the natural gas plant that powers the Bitcoin mining business. Approximately 20,000 computers..
“It’s very sad that New York wants to continue this kind of mining,” Williams said in an interview.
Adams acknowledged environmental concerns and said he was opposed to cryptocurrency mining in New York. Cryptographic advocates say the industry will move to green or less energy-intensive sources over time. Ethereum, one of the currencies owned by the mayor, Upgrade to a more energy efficient system Sometime in the first half of this year.
The progressive appeal of cryptography
Adams, a self-proclaimed computer geek, talks about crypto in terms of both innovation and social equality. In the latter, he appears ready to draw support from some progressive Democrats.
Technology has been Cast as a route of A community that is at a disadvantage to build wealth. Unlike traditional banks, cryptocurrencies avoid screening mechanisms such as credit checks that keep the poor out. Critics say that may be true, but the volatility of digital currencies makes a dangerous bet for those who lose the least.
Today, investors are mostly Caucasian maleHowever, surveys show increasing participation among blacks and Latin Americans.
U.S. Congressman Ritchie Torres, who represents the poor areas of Bronx, recently introduced a new type of financial trading system in which blockchain technology, apart from digital currencies, could benefit low-income colored communities at low rates. Insisted that there was a possibility to tell.
“The traditional financial system is far more and more highly mediated than people are aware of,” he said in an interview with Gotamist. “And each of those intermediaries is engaged in rent-seeking at the expense of consumers.”
Despite his environmental concerns, Williams said he was looking for ways to learn more about cryptography and gain access to technology.
“From what I understand, this is the legitimate currency that would be here,” he said. “So I would like to do a little more research on what that means for the marginalized community. For now, they are the wholesalers left behind and that’s a problem.”
Matthew Fraser, recently appointed by Adams as Chief Technology Officer of the City, enthusiastically talked about the crypto promise in the municipality. Some ideas use blockchain to replace a city’s real estate database. Allows people to settle their taxes and summon them in cryptocurrencies. An internal currency that the city can use to encourage certain types of desirable spending, such as healthy food consumption.
Kaehny and others exaggerated the dollar currency alternative.
Fraser likened this concept to something familiar to Disney World visitors, creating a unique type of currency called the “Disney Dollar.”
“If you buy for Disney dollars, you can save money based on where you used it and what you used it for,” he said. “If you stack cryptocurrencies and look at the size of the city, that’s certainly possible.”
Still, he warned that the focus of the government’s short-term technology was “to bridge areas where the government is in serious shortage.”
This means continuing to expand broadband services in low-income areas and fulfilling the mayor’s campaign promise to establish a single online portal that allows New York City residents to access all eligible benefits and services. increase.
But in the short term, the mayor set his crypto sights on education policy.Immediately after being elected, he I swore Create a cryptocurriculum for public school children. He told Gotamist that the class could start as early as this summer, adding that the city would develop an introductory course by partnering with industry leaders.
“What happened is that people are left behind and don’t want to make that mistake with this all-new technology,” he said. “That’s why we build the actual pipeline.”
How some of these policy ideas are implemented may depend on the regulatory environment facing collaborative lobbying at the federal and state levels by the crypto industry. During February Bloomberg reported More than a dozen crypto companies have spent a total of $ 1.5 million working on Congressman Albany, who decides on industry regulation.
New York is considered one of the toughest states for crypto companies to do business with. This is the first state to create the so-called “bit license” needed by companies trading in cryptocurrencies, also known as the Bitcoin exchange.
Torres has asked state regulators to revise the “troublesome” rules for bit licensing.
Since the application process began in 2015, the state has issued a total of 30 BitLicenses. This reflects a bureaucratic crackdown on the booming sector, according to Torres and other crypto proponents.
Kaehny of Reinvent Albany claimed that the state had successfully launched a rigorous screening process for new industries plagued by suspicions of fraud and money laundering.
“Financial companies are heavily regulated by the SEC, but why are crypto promoters thinking that cryptocurrencies are somehow different and not worthy of scrutiny?” He mentioned and said the Securities Trading Commission, a federal agency that regulates the securities market.
However, regulatory changes seem to be imminent. Cryptocurrency players see a potential ally of Adrian Harris, a former adviser to financial technology under the Obama administration, where Hokul chose to lead the state’s financial services sector. The agency is responsible for issuing BitLicenses.
“It’s not always fast enough for crypto companies moving at the speed of light,” said Chris Coffee, a political strategist at Tusk Strategies, who recently started cryptocurrency practices. “But conversely, it’s a regulatory-first environment here, and getting a license here is a huge problem.”
In search of comment, Governor’s spokesman Madia Coleman said the state is still discussing cryptocurrency regulation issues with “stakeholders and legislators.” 1
“When the state evaluates the security and soundness of all new cryptocurrency proposals, it makes decisions accordingly,” she said.
Adams describes the licensing process as “discriminatory,” and the governor “is like streamlining the process, but doing it in a very safe way so that all kinds of fraud can be eliminated. I believe that we are aiming for that.
“I really admire her not being a bystander,” the mayor added. “We must lead this new form of commerce.”
David Cruz contributed to the report.