A letter addressed to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin points to blockchain and DLT as secure “new mechanisms” for moving money quickly and transparently, which could in turn boost liquidity in distributing funds via the federal CARES Act.
Eleven members of Congress are calling on the U.S. Treasury Department to look at new technologies, including blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT), to help streamline how cash and supplies are distributed under a federal law trying to boost the economy during the COVID-19 crisis.
Soto, who co-chairs the Congressional Blockchain Caucus, told CoinDesk he had spoken with developers, entrepreneurs and other members of the caucus in drafting the letter.
In his view, blockchain or DLT tools might be the most secure ones available to solve some logistical challenges the federal government is facing in distributing funds and other supplies.
Blockchain-based systems could be coupled with artificial intelligence (AI) to better manage the data being tracked or transmitted, he said.
“It works so well in hand with artificial intelligence and it’s not subject to hacking or changes once you have that fixed ledger down,” he said.
Soto sees AI as a supplementary tool, rather than something to take charge of a distribution network. Policymakers would still need to set strict parameters and humans would still have to act as administrators for such a system, he said.
“We could see greater speed and efficiency right now,” he said of the proposed system.
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, there is a lot more demand for certain goods than there is supply, and having individuals manage their distribution is a difficult task.
“I believe it’s worth at least doing pilot programs,” Soto said. The results of these pilots can inform what a next step might look like, he said, though he’s not looking to immediately replace existing systems with blockchain-based versions just yet.
This is a good time to start the conversation, Soto said.
“During this terrible crisis there are certain opportunities to advance technologies,” he said. “This presents us with an opportunity to potentially get greater efficiency for a lot of these logistical issues.”