Julio Fuentes: Building Florida as leader in digital assets space

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Few industries have produced the kind of rapid growth – or shown as big of a potential impact across society – as the digital assets revolution.

Despite that this technology remains in its early stages, one out of every five Americans has already used or invested in cryptocurrency. The work of entrepreneurs and tech experts can redefine the way money moves around our economy and opens access to an array of new financial products that make people’s lives better.

Research shows the Hispanic community has been an early, enthusiastic adopter of crypto. One survey found nearly a quarter of crypto users in the U.S. are Hispanic, and additional research has shown a disproportionately high level of crypto use among Hispanic adults.

Crypto adoption also has grown across Latin America at some of the fastest rates anywhere in the world.

This level of interest demonstrates both demand for alternative ways of investing and transferring money and the appeal of real-world uses for crypto-based systems.

For example, the common act of sending money to family members in other countries can be expensive and inefficient. It can require visiting a physical location, involve significant fees, and take days for funds to become available. Billions of dollars in remittances are sent from the U.S. each year, and crypto offers a new way of moving money across borders from a phone or desktop with lower fees and near-instant settlement.

Small businesses, nonprofits, humanitarian aid providers, and residents of countries with high inflation or unstable currencies see crypto as an alternative to financial systems that are vulnerable to political interference or simply leave too many people behind.

Creative artists have employed blockchain and the emergence of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in groundbreaking ways to interact with audiences and make their work more profitable.

The growth of crypto, both in the Hispanic community and the world at large, has the potential to create long-lasting economic advantages for those who understand its promise and encourage its development.

States and urban areas that get ahead of the curve on crypto will fare much better than others when it comes to jobs and economic expansion.

In both Tallahassee and Washington, and in County Commissions and city halls, we encourage a multifaceted approach that combines private sector innovation with policies that protect consumers but don’t put a straitjacket on creativity or entrepreneurship.

It’s an encouraging sign that several Florida leaders – from both sides of the political aisle – have been vocal in their embrace of crypto’s potential. Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, as well as U.S. Reps. Kat Cammack, Darren Soto, and Byron Donalds are among the state’s notable crypto supporters. Gov. Ron DeSantis has also been working towards allowing the state’s government to allow businesses to make tax payments in cryptocurrency.

Collectively, they are building excitement towards crypto that has driven businesses, enthusiasts, and conferences to Florida.

Florida is uniquely positioned to be a global incubator for crypto development and adoption. Our geographic location, entrepreneurial culture, diverse workforce, and many other attributes make the state a natural fit for those looking to build and grow.

Florida’s leadership in crypto is good for the Hispanic community, good for our business community, and good for those who want high-quality jobs and economic vitality in all parts of the state.

Elected officials from the municipal level to the federal level can play a role in providing the definition, certainty, and clarity that the industry needs – and they can do it in a collaborative way that sets the standard for 21st-century public policy.

Let’s keep working together to build the future and strengthen Florida’s position as a leader in the digital assets space.

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Julio Fuentes is president and CEO of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

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