Illinois Outlines Bitcoin Policy


Illinois has released a new policy guidance document and is seeking public comment. The document provides an outline of what is likely to be the state’s early view on how to integrate cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology into government operations.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) released its guidance document on December 1, shortly after a broader statewide blockchain initiative was announced by the Illinois Department of Information Technology. The goal of the guidance document and public comment period is to examine how the state government will be able to interpret currencies like bitcoin when it comes to government operations because the new currencies aren’t fully recognized as legal tender within state or federal law.

“As innovative payment technologies grow in popularity, it is vital that we provide a succinct regulatory framework that gives businesses operating in this space necessary clarity,” said Bryan A. Schneider, IDFPR Secretary. “We plan to study digital currencies carefully as the technology develops, however, at this point in time digital currencies like Bitcoin, given their low transaction volume and relatively niche use, are best viewed as a speculative investment or possibly even a new type of asset class, not as money.”

Comments on the document will be open until January 18, 2017.

In addition to the guidance, IDFPR will also be working alongside the Illinois Department of Innovation & Technology (DoIT), Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), Department of Insurance (DOI) and Cook County’s Recorder of Deeds on a blockchain initiative. The project aims to attract technology companies that are working on blockchain backed technology by maintaining an advantageous regulatory environment.

Jennifer O’Rourke, Assistant Deputy Director of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Technology, has been appointed?as?Illinois’ first?Blockchain Business Liaison as part of the initiative. O’Rourke’s background in financial services and business development will enable her to work with new companies and expand the opportunity set for blockchain within Illinois.

Illinois will also create a public/private collaborative platform for developing?specific blockchain and distributed ledger?applications?and prototypes for use in Illinois government. To jumpstart these efforts the Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) released a Request for Information (RFI) soliciting input and feedback from the Blockchain technology community on how?to?develop strong?applications?for blockchain in government and how the state should develop an implementation roadmap for these efforts. The Cook County Recorder of Deeds, is already on track to become the first land records office in the United States to recognize a property conveyance using the Blockchain.

Information on the RFP is available here.