Earlier this week, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) announced a project aiming to reshape New York into a more blockchain-friendly environment. The non-profit corporation will be launching the NYC Blockchain Resource Center later this summer.
"We understand the need to protect consumers and investors … and we want to provide a forum where we're bringing everybody to the table and saying, 'Let's have smart regulation, but simultaneously, let's create an environment that fosters innovation,'" said Karen Bhatia, vice president of Creative and Applied Tech at the NYCEDC.
Since the BitLicense was implemented, several prominent blockchain ventures have left New York. The new initiative aims to kickstart an open discussion around regulation. The center will hold workshops for government leaders and community members to learn the basics of blockchain technology and potential use cases.
Parallel to its advocacy and education efforts, the center aims to provide guidance to entrepreneurs who are building blockchain startups. "It will be like a community center of sorts, where people can come in and we can help them build a roadmap for how to proceed with their businesses. If they have questions about regulations, legal implications, accounting, commercialization … we'll have a network of support services that can help them," Bhatia continued.
Following a series of workshops to connect entrepreneurs to the public and to government leaders, startups will engage in a pitch competition organized by the resource center and NYC BigApps, a community-based technology competition and incubator. This particular challenge will focus on blockchain solutions to government problems; the organization hopes to show that a balance can be reached between consumer protection and business innovation.
"Aside from the government integrating blockchain into their operations, as the general public has more familiarity of how blockchain works, people will be more likely to use blockchain products as they come out – they won't need to be concerned about privacy issues," Bhatia said. She emphasized the importance of connecting entrepreneurs to the public, especially so that startups can reduce the intimidation factor of using a blockchain-based app and improve the user experience.
NYCEDC wants this to be a community effort and is looking for anyone with resources to get involved. "One of the amazing parts of the blockchain community is that it is so collaborative, and it has such a 'pay it forward' mindset … We're looking to collaborate across the board, whether it's organizations in the private or public sector, people in academia, or people with funding they can leverage, everybody is welcome to pitch in."