Hawaii Can't Afford To Ignore Cryptocurrency - Honolulu Civil Beat


About the Author

Jacy L. Youn

Jacy L. Youn is a Blockchain Enthusiast who enjoys researching, writing, and learning about Web3. She is bullish on Ethereum and Cardano, and enjoys collecting JPEGs in her spare time.


In August, Miami debuted its own cryptocurrency for residents, Miami Coin. A few months later, New York City Mayor-elect Eric Adams tweeted he’d be taking his entire salary in Bitcoin. And in February of this year, Colorado (which was already utilizing the blockchain technology underlying cryptocurrencies for its government infrastructure) became the first state to accept crypto as payment for taxes.

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Across the country, state governments are increasingly opening the gates for cryptocurrency adoption as a catalyst to attract tech-savvy residents and businesses in addition to diversifying revenue streams.

Meanwhile, Hawaii’s Legislature has quietly issued a death sentence to the small handful of bills that would have cleared the way for crypto exchanges to continue operating after Hawaii’s fledgling cryptocurrency pilot program expires at the end of this year.

Sure, there is one bill remaining, but it imposes overly burdensome, expensive, and obsolete regulatory principles that will likely chase most reputable exchanges out of the state.

I bring this up not to chastise our legislators, but rather to shed light on the perhaps unintended longer-term consequences of their inaction. Having worked in the square building doing legislative research and bill drafting, I understand their roles as public servants require substantive knowledge an inch deep and a mile wide on a wealth of topics.

‘Complex Subjects’

Cryptocurrencies and the underlying blockchain technologies are complex subjects involving high levels of risk, and the weight of homelessness, employment, and education issues certainly weigh more heavily on their minds.

The thing is, Hawaii’s at a breaking point and we cannot afford to kick the crypto can down the road. Whether we’re ready or not, the world is in the midst of another technological revolution called Web3 and by closing the window on safe and legal access to crypto, we all but shut the door on Hawaii residents’ abilities to participate in this nascent and thriving industry.

To back up a second for those who may not have heard of or understand Web3, here’s a quick primer: Web1 was the creation of the internet. Pages were largely static and limited to ‘read’ only. Web2 empowered consumers and brands to not only read, but ‘write’ online as well. In this phase we saw the rise of blogging and social media, along with the proliferation of private tech behemoths like Facebook and Google.

We cannot afford to kick the crypto can down the road.

Web3 decentralizes the internet, empowering users with “ownership” over their data, content, and overall presence online. Think of it as read + write + own. Blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and the concept of decentralization — or redistributing authority from a single entity to a distributed network — are the backbones of this new movement. It is an unfathomably fast-moving, innovative space filled with a bright and motivated community of builders, creators, and problem solvers.

Since entering the Web3 rabbit hole a couple years ago, I’ve been fortunate to meet and work alongside incredibly talented individuals with skills ranging from computer coding to marketing to intellectual property law. I’ve watched and participated in project teams that span time zones and age groups, building and researching fascinating blockchain applications that will have far reaching impacts on the rest of our lives.

Some interesting use case examples include:

The use of smart contracts on the blockchain has serious potential to disrupt every major industry from health care to law and major government functions, from voting to licensing. There are thousands of potential applications for this burgeoning technology and there is absolutely no reason these ideas couldn’t be hatched and executed out of Hawaii, bringing life-changing amounts of wealth to its participants, which would eventually funnel into state coffers and the local community. It is, however, exponentially more difficult, if not entirely impossible, to participate in Web3 in a meaningful way without legal access to cryptocurrency exchanges.

I know Hawaii’s influentials have long been intent on reversing the brain drain; it’s an issue I covered extensively during my stint as a writer for Hawaii Business. But it isn’t enough to put together a well-intentioned program with a catchy name. You won’t attract the best and brightest expatriates, let alone retain the folks who currently live here, by ignoring the rising trend toward global adoption of cryptocurrencies.

Web3 builders span the globe and have their choice of destinations, many with fewer taxes, lower costs of living, and a higher quality of life. We say “GM!” (good morning) to one another around the clock, no matter the time of day, in a subtle, but notable acknowledgment that ours is a worldwide community with participants from every corner of the planet.

Let’s even the playing field for locals and put our digital currencies where our mouths are. That’s the only way #WAGMI (“We are all going to make it”).

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About the Author

Jacy L. Youn

Jacy L. Youn is a Blockchain Enthusiast who enjoys researching, writing, and learning about Web3. She is bullish on Ethereum and Cardano, and enjoys collecting JPEGs in her spare time.


Latest Comments (0)

Awesome article to read :) I’m more worried with the whole USD going down the drain. And the transfer / change into digital currency. Gold backed currency. It’s interesting to read and see what’s happening throughout the world.Sadly this is something hawaii cannot fall behind in. We will all suffer and pay the price for it.

Ehudakineyah · 2 months ago

Great article! But don't underestimate the legislature. Powerful people protect their interests and their friends. Do you know anyone in Hawaii in the title insurance and/or escrow business? Yep, I think we all do. Those, currently very lucrative functions, are facing inevitable extinction with the advent of blockchain technology. There will be a fight to survive, but don't expect it to be characterized accurately along the way. Calling NFT's a scam is a start...as long as people don't start thinking about attaching them to property titles/deeds. A lot of very powerful people have a stake in keeping blockchain at bay.

jtsurfah · 2 months ago

Aloha to article author, Jacy...Just wanted to say mahalo for the interesting read and to express my gratitude for learning that there is [at least] one other living, breathing (and cogent) human in Hawai'i who is also a Lobby3 token holder involved with the Lobby3DAO. ;-)Again- thank you for writing this!-tom(#197)

yaskota · 2 months ago

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