This week, New York City Mayor Eric Adams delivered a keynote at the Crypto and Digital Assets Summit in London, where he called upon state legislators to listen to crypto industry experts on the future of the technology.
"The most important thing is to listen to those within the industry, because this is relatively new and sometimes we are fearful when it comes to new technologies, particularly something like cryptocurrency and blockchain," Adams said.
Adams also highlighted the urgency of working with regulators and lawmakers: "[We are] working with our state partners to assess the landscape around cryptocurrency and digital assets to ensure alignment with more traditional means of financing."
Adams made waves earlier this January, when he took the first of three paychecks in Bitcoin. Adams envisions making New York City "the center of the cryptocurrency industry,” and is among the most ardently pro-crypto mayors across the U.S., sharing the title with Miami mayor Francis X. Suarez.
Despite Adams' warm embrace of cryptocurrency in New York City, state lawmakers in Albany have taken a more cautious tone about Bitcoin mining and its ecological impact. This week, the New York State Assembly approved a ban on proof-of-work Bitcoin mining, which will also pave the way for detailed studies on the energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions produced by Bitcoin mines in the state. The bill still needs to pass the New York State Senate before it can be signed into law or vetoed by New York governor Kathy Hochul.
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In 2015, the state of New York also passed a rule requiring a "BitLicense" or business license for cryptocurrency-related activities, which resulted in some crypto companies flocking to other states instead.
This week, Mayor Adams publicly denounced the crypto licensing requirement and said it would be better for New York to repeal the rule: "It’s about thinking not only outside the box, but on this one, we may have to destroy the box,” he said.
“New York’s BitLicense regulatory regime is the most demanding in the United States. Digital currency firms in New York currently have to apply for a BitLicense, which can take years to process,” said a FX Empire report in March.
Earlier this month, Governor Kathy Hochul signed a new law requiring all companies with a BitLicense to pay annual assessment fees to help the state recoup operating expenses. This effectively increased the cost of running a crypto business in the state by tens of thousands of dollars, critics pointed out.
“New York was the first to start licensing and supervising virtual currency companies, and we continue to attract more licensees and the most crypto startup funding of any state in the nation," said Department of Financial Services superintendent Adrienne Harris about the necessity of the law.
But for Mayor Adams, it is one of the many new rules that makes converting New York into a crypto capital increasingly challenging. However, the politician stressed the importance of finding common ground with Albany regulators to promote cryptocurrency: “It is imperative that we work with the state lawmakers and regulators,” Adams said. “I’m really happy to see Governor Hochul is leaning into this industry as we examine what are the bureaucratic issues that we need to look at."