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Blockchain competition, resource center planned by city’s Economic Development Corporation

The efforts aim to foster growing interest in blockchain and Bitcoin technology around New York City.

Bitcoin ATMs, like this one on 34th Street

Bitcoin ATMs, like this one on 34th Street and Ninth Avenue, are just one way blockchain technology is working its way into the city's economy. Photo Credit: Colter Hettich

The city is taking steps to link its economy to the burgeoning blockchain sector.

James Patchett, president of the city’s Economic Development Corporation, is slated to announce Monday the city’s plans to establish a blockchain resource center and a contest for the best ways to use the technology in the public sector.

Blockchain, where a public ledger stores and transfers data across a network of computers in a way that cuts out central administrators like banks, has spurred several businesses in the city, fueling an 800 percent increase in job postings between 2015 and 2017, according to Burning Glass. Last year, city-based blockchain businesses attracted more than $199 million in venture capital investments.

“We’re a global leader in finance, real estate, media and tech — all industries seeing incredible innovation from this new technology,” Patchett said in a statement. “The city is putting a big focus into blockchain to find out how we can grow the industry and make sure it’s creating great opportunities for New Yorkers.”

The city is prepared to spend up to $100,000 supporting the resource center in its first year, according to the EDC. Officials are talking with several blockchain and technology businesses about the hub, which the city says would educate the public about the technology and offer entrepreneurs business support, mentorship and networking opportunities. The resource center could open its doors as early as this summer, the EDC said.

Although the state and federal governments regulate blockchain, the EDC said it would like to use the resource center to get feedback from businesses and consumer advocates about ways to improve the rules — such as simplifying the process for obtaining a Bitcoin license.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office did not respond to a request for comment.

The EDC is looking to contract with an outside organization on the blockchain competition, which will likely launch in late 2018. The initiative will explore how the technology can expedite city services.

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