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State Rep Disappointed Gordon Vetoed Bill That Would Have Allowed Wyo To Issue Virtual Currency

in News/Legislature/cryptocurrency
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Gov. Mark Gordon’s veto of a bill that would have allowed Wyoming to issue its own virtual currency is being welcomed by state Treasurer Curt Meier, but met with disappointment by one of the bill’s co-sponsors.

On Friday, Gordon vetoed Senate File 106, which would have allowed the state to create and sell Wyoming “stable tokens.” The stable tokens would have a fixed value and would be backed by the state’s assets so they would not see the value fluctuations of other virtual currency.

In a letter to Secretary of State Ed Buchanan, Gordon said that he was vetoing the bill for a couple of reasons, primarily that Wyoming Treasurer Curt Meier’s office is already struggling to keep up with its current obligations and the new law would add more burden.

“I believe there are good ideas contained in this act, but I am concerned that not all stakeholders were consulted prior to its passage by the Legislature,” Gordon wrote. “Wyoming’s reputation is at stake, as are the reputations of the individuals tasked with implementing this act, should the effort fail.”

Gordon recommended the Legislature take up the topic as an interim study.

Treasurer OK With Veto

Meier told Cowboy State Daily on Monday that while he believed his office could have established the stable token by the end of the year, the key to having a successful stable token launch was in the marketing.

“You must create demand and demonstrate something that makes your particular token unique in an area that is already full of competitors,” he said. “There is potential for establishing a successful launch of a stable token, but I concur with the Governor that we need to study the issue further.”

Nor is the office’s chief investment officer an expert on digital assets, Meier said, and the time needed for him to prepare for the launch of a digital currency wold have been siginficant.

“SF106 would have taken a lot of his time and attention as part of this launch,” he said. “In this unstable market, our CIO needs to concentrate on what he is supposed to do – manage and build our portfolio. I thank the Governor for giving us our CIO back and allowing him to do the job he was hired to do.

Olsen ‘Sorely Disappointed’

But bill co-sponsor Rep. Jared Olsen, R-Cheyenne, told Cowboy State Daily on Monday that he was “sorely disappointed” Gordon vetoed the bill, as it passed both the Wyoming House and Senate with more than two-thirds majorities in each chamber.

“In terms of this bill being vetted, on the House side, I sat through four House Appropriations meetings [about the legislation],” Olsen told Cowboy State Daily. “In my time in the Legislature, it is very rare that a bill take two committee meetings, let alone four. So the fact that it took four committee meetings told me that one of our most senior and experienced committees was taking its time vetting this issue.”

Olsen said that since there were four meetings about the bill during the session, there was plenty of opportunity for stakeholders to weigh in on the bill.

While Olsen did not disagree with Gordon’s assessment about the treasurer’s office, he did not think this meant Wyoming should stop moving forward. However, he had no intention of picking the legislation up as a potential interim study topic.

“We had the opportunity to be the first in the world with something like this, and I am 99% certain we have missed the boat, and you don’t get another bite at an apple like this,” he said.

Bill sponsor Sen. Chris Rothfuss, D-Laramie, did not return Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment on Monday.

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Wyoming Not Likely To Follow Colorado Yet In Accepting Crypto For Tax Payments

in News/cryptocurrency
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Despite Wyoming’s status as a pioneer state when it comes to cryptocurrency, one expert does not believe that the state will be accepting digital money as payment for taxes as Colorado has decided to do.

Earlier this month, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill which will take effect this summer that would allow Colorado residents to pay their income taxes and other government fees with cryptocurrency. Polis said that Colorado’s finances are all based on dollars, so any payments made with crypto would be converted back into dollars by an intermediary source.

Wyoming crypto expert Caitlin Long told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday that the Wyoming Legislature dismissed the idea of using crypto for tax payments, since Wyoming does not have a state income tax.

“The amounts involved were far smaller than those in states with big income taxes or other types of taxes, like gross receipts or franchise taxes on businesses,” Long said. “The University of Wyoming has been accepting donations on crypto since 2018 and could work with the state to show how easy it is to set up.”

Cryptocurrency is a digital currency exchanged through a computer network that is not reliant on the government or a bank to uphold or maintain it.

During the most recent legislative session, Wyoming lawmakers passed a bill that would allow Wyoming’s treasurer to issue “stable tokens,” a form of digital currency backed by solid assets. Senate File 106 cleared both chambers of the Legislature and is awaiting the signature of Gov. Mark Gordon to become law.

If Gordon signs the bill into law, Wyoming would be the only state in the nation with its own digital currency.

Rep. Mike Yin, D-Jackson, said during the session that the values of most digital currencies can be very volatile, while Wyoming’s stable tokens, being backed by the state’s assets, would remain constant in their value.

Stable tokens allow people to trade in the digital realm without experiencing rapid fluctuations in the value of their currency, he said.

Wyoming is also home to the world’s first two digital banks, Kraken and Avanti, the latter of which was founded by Long.

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Wyoming Man Sues Blockchain Companies; Says He Is Owed More Than $1.4 Million In Crypto-Currency

in News/cryptocurrency
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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A Wyoming man who agreed to work for companies in Germany and the United Kingdom in exchange for cryptocurrency is suing both companies in federal court, claiming he was never paid.

Nathan Christian has filed lawsuits against OneM Communications and INVAO Trading AG, both identified as companies working in the blockchain sector, saying he is owed more than $1.4 million by the two companies.

Christian is identified in the lawsuit as a “heralded and respected advisor in the emerging field of blockchain technology” and was identified by CryptocCoin News in a 2018 interview was one of the world’s “top 10 people of blockchain.”

Christian’s lawsuits said that both companies hired him in 2018 to provide business guidance, advice and other services.

According to the lawsuit, INVAO, of Germany, was to pay Christian 120 Ethereum, a digital currency similar to Bitcoin, with a value of about $450,000, and 300,000 units of the INVAO Group’s own digital token worth about $250,000.

OneM Communications, of the United Kingdom, was to pay Christian 115 Ethereum, valued at about $440,000, and 0.5% of the company’s own digital token, valued at about $250,000.

The lawsuit filed Monday said in both cases, Christian did the work requested, but was never paid.

“The INVAO Group made it clear that they were essentially seeking nothing more than an individual who was established and connected int he world of blockchain to provide occasional advisory services,” the lawsuit against the company said. “Furthermore, they requested the privilege of listing Mr. Christian on their website and on their marketing materials as an advisor.

“Mr. Christian went above and beyond that,” the lawsuit continued. “He acted as a confidant, business advisor and deal-maker for the defendants in a good faith effort to promote their venture, but has yet to be paid as promised.”

The lawsuit accuses both companies of breach of contract and seeks at least $700,000 from INVAO and a judgment for unspecified compensatory damages against OneM.

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Avanti Becomes Second Digital Bank Approved In Wyoming

in News/banking/cryptocurrency
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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The nation’s second bank dedicated to handling digital assets and easing transactions between digital assets and the American dollar has won approval to operate in Wyoming.

The Wyoming Banking Board voted 8-0 on Wednesday to approve the charter of the Avanti Bank & Trust, the company announced.

Avanti is the nation’s second digital asset bank to win approval to open in Wyoming. Kraken Financial won charter recognition from both state and federal regulators in September.

Like Kraken, Avanti will have the same powers as a national bank in its approved business lines and will provide several services, including dealing in its own product known as “Avit” to ease the exchange between digital currencies — such as Bitcoin — and dollars.

The bank’s primary job will be to serve as a bridge between digital asset systems and systems that rely on traditional U.S. dollars, said Caitlin Long, Avanti’s founder.

Long, a Wyoming native, was deeply involved in legislative efforts that led to Wyoming becoming the first state in the nation to develop rules to regulate “Blockchain” technology, a digital ledger system.

Her work led in 2019 to legislative approval of a bill allowing the creation of “Special Purpose Depository Institutions” for the handling of cryptocurrency transactions.

Wyoming’s work has made it the only state in the nation where banks working with both digital and traditional assets can operate, Long said in a prepared statement.

“Currently, the only type of U.S. financial institution that can provide final and simultaneous settlement of trades between digital assets and the U.S. dollar—because it is the only type currently approved to handle both within the same legal entity—is a Wyoming special purpose depository institution like Avanti,” she said. “Wyoming has the only U.S. regulator with a bank supervisory and regulatory program for digital assets that is near completion.”

Avanti’s approved products and services include the issuing of Avit and serving as a depository for for digital assets.

The company plans to begin opening commercial accounts in 2021 and will open other types of accounts with high minimum balance requirements soon after, Long said.

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