NEW YORK (February 16, 2022) – New York City Council Member and Chair of the Technology Committee Jennifer Gutiérrez held the NYC Council’s first-ever oversight hearing yesterday on cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.
The hearing provided New York City agencies an opportunity to share their work in this space and efforts to implement blockchain technology, which has been repeatedly championed by Mayor Eric Adams. A large number of agencies were invited to testify, but the Office of Technology and Innovation (OTI) was the only agency to attend. Chief Technology Officer Matt Fraser shared updates on several City products launching in 2023, and discussed OTI’s commitment of resources to ensure NYC is a “fertile ground” for the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry to thrive.
CTO Fraser confirmed that OTI is actively working on initiatives including:
- A New York City Coin, similar to MiamiCoin
- Third-party currency transfer and exchange for municipal uses, such as payment of parking tickets
- Providing resources to the New York State Department of Finance to expand their capacity to issue business licenses for virtual currency activities
- Utilizing blockchain to create a frictionless transfer of data and important records, such as deeds and birth certificates
- Collaborating with an existing Committee on Cryptocurrency proposed by Mayor Adams
- Educational programming for DOE students
- A Digital Wallet for recipients of City resources, which would financially incentivize healthy behavior such as purchasing produce, that would also be connected to the forthcoming MyCity App
CTO Fraser elaborated that the Digital Wallet would include incentives and City resources, such as Fair Fares. A future phase of the product would provide financial incentives for “healthy behavior,” such as “matching dollar for dollar” purchases of produce, and providing users with information about other services or resources they may qualify for. OTI is also evaluating pathways to incorporate federal benefits, such as SNAP, into the Digital Wallet. CTO Fraser said they have no intention of using information collected for punitive action (Council Member Won referenced activity in China during the height of the Covid pandemic), and confirmed OTI has no intention of sharing this data with third parties, but would not confirm they would decline requests for this data from law enforcement. New Yorkers can expect the release of the Digital Wallet product by the end of 2023, and there are plans to connect it to the long-anticipated MyCity App, which was announced as a September 2022 release, now confirmed by CTO Matt Fraser to be released before the end of Q1 2023.
Building on Mayor Adams’ commitment to dedicate City resources to the expansion of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, OTI is currently hiring two Policy Advisors focusing on Digital Assets and Blockchain, and HRA is hiring a Director of the Security Operations Center specializing in blockchain technology.