Florida to Hire a Cryptocurrency Czar

The state’s chief financial officer, Jimmy Patronis, announced the plan to hire a regulator to explore how securities and insurance laws apply to the volatile virtual currency.

by Marco Santana, Orlando Sentinel / June 27, 2018

(TNS) — Jimmy Patronis, the Florida state chief financial officer, said Tuesday that he will hire a state regulator who would focus on oversight of cryptocurrency.

Cryptocurrencies operate independently of a central bank, using digital encryption to create units of currency that customers can purchase individually or in groups.

The value of such currencies fluctuates, similar to how a company’s stock can rise and fall minute by minute. In recent years, cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin have been extremely volatile.

The person appointed to Patronis’ as-yet-untitled position would explore how laws that govern securities and insurance apply to cryptocurrencies and initial offerings.

Those offerings occur when units of virtual currencies are made available to investors.

“We cannot allow the cryptocurrency industry to expand in Florida unfettered and unchecked with the potential for so many, including our large population of seniors, to be exploited,” Patronis said in a statement. “By taking an active, comprehensive and balanced approach, our state will provide an appropriate level of scrutiny for emerging digital asset technologies.”

Patronis could not be reached for comment. His statement did not when the position would be created or how it would be filled.

Patronis was appointed chief financial officer by Gov. Rick Scott in June 2017 and is running for election in November.

His opponent, former state Sen. Jeremy Ring, said Patronis’ plan is “hollow” and reeks of a “campaign stunt.”

Ring, one of the first employees at Yahoo, says the federal government should govern cryptocurrency, not a state financial agency.

“If you understand the technical aspects of cryptocurrency, it needs to be something that the federal government wraps their arms around,” Ring said. “I don’t think they understand the crypto world.”

Ring also said that any state effort to watch over cryptocurrency should be led by the attorney general rather than the CFO.

“The crash that is occurring now is a lot like the crash that happened to the early internet companies,” he said. “But, ultimately, what came out of it was good companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon.”


©2018 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.