Several Illinois agencies have teamed up to explore blockchain and the way how the technology can be integrated into government operations.

The group of Illinois state and county agencies has unveiled the launch of the Illinois Blockchain Initiative. The announcement took place during Blockchain Conference Chicago, one of the leading events in the sphere of the blockchain technology.

The consortium consists of the State’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (DFPR), Department of Insurance (DOI), Department of Innovation & Technology (DoIT) and Cook County’s Recorder of Deeds. Together they will be working to explore innovations presented by blockchain and distributed ledger technology.

Bryan Schneider, secretary of the Illinois Department of DFPR, presented guidance documents demonstrating how blockchain can be integrated into government operations. He also unveiled the creation of a blockchain business liaison role within the Illinois Department of Commerce.

“As our mother used to tell us, we have two ears and one mouth, so we think it’s important to learn about this technology before we start figuring out how to regulate it,” Schneider said.

The two ears refer to two documents. The Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) issued a request for information (RFI) demanding input from the blockchain technology community on how to develop strong applications in government, what the most beneficial use cases are, and how the state can develop an instruction for blockchain applications. DFPR came up with a “digital currency regulatory guidance” document, the state’s attempt to apply regulation to blockchain-based transactions.

“One concrete thing we can do is — my department understands that uncertainty around licensing and regulation is on the mind of every digital currency and blockchain business in operation,” Schneider said. “It’s vital we provide a succinct framework that provides businesses in this space the regulatory clarity necessary to attract investment and scale.”

Schneider underlined the importance of consolidated consistent efforts in the study and application of the blockchain technology.

“I hear repeatedly from financial services companies is that one thing that drives them insane is the patchwork quilt of state regulation,” he said. “And while we’re all sovereign states, we have an obligation to try to be as uniform as possible to the greatest extent possible and so we kept that in mind as we developed this guidance.”

Jennifer O’Rourke — the state’s Department of Commerce Office of Entrepreneurship, Innovation & Technology’s assistant deputy director — is appointed as Illinois’ first blockchain business liaison. Her duty will be to coordinate anyone who needs information about the work Illinois can do to help encourage blockchain.

The state of Delaware was the first state to create formal blockchain policy. Being the second state in the blockchain race, Illinois demonstrates a strong intention continue leading and embracing innovation.

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