On the edge of the working session to the topic crypto currencies of the SPD restaurant economics we had the possibility of speaking with two representatives of the social democrats to the topic field Blockchain and crypto currencies. In the first part of this interview two-part we place our questions to the SPD Bundestag delegate Dr. Jens carpenter. Dr. Zimmermann is both tidy member in the finance committee and digitalpolitischer speaker of the SPD Bundestag faction, which makes it an ideal interlocutor for the political perspective on the Blockchain and their applications.
When and in what context did you first come into contact with blockchain technology or crypto currencies?
I have been a member of the German Bundestag since 2013 and, through my membership in the Finance and Digital Agenda Committees, have been able to see what exciting topics there are at this intersection. Against this background, I became aware of the topic of crypto currencies, also because I saw that sooner or later politics will be challenged in this area. So I developed this topic in a very classic way, for example by organizing an event in 2014 and I was on the road in Berlin and met many people who had been there since the beginning. Thus I came relatively fast also on the Blockchain, since I was pointed by the crypto-enthusiasts again and again also to the chances of the technology.
In the now negotiated coalition agreement the word blockchain appears seven times. That sounds a lot at first.
How optimistic can we be that the new government will really take the issue seriously?
So it is very certain that it will take up the issue, the question is rather how this will be done. As it now stands in the coalition agreement, we have an optimistic view of technology. We see the great opportunities that lie in it and also the innovations that are currently emerging. The future German government wants to promote them. In addition, we want to continue to support research in this area and see to what extent the state can make these technologies ready for application as lead users. Many blockchain projects have currently not even reached beta status and we still have a lot of work ahead of us. Of course we also see a need for regulation at one point or another. Last week we had a visit from the South Korean Digital Committee. If you look at the handling of crypto currencies there, you can also see that regulation in Germany is not bad and that we do not regulate harder than necessary.
The two main points of the coalition agreement are the implementation possibilities of blockchain technology and the regulation of crypto currencies. Which of the two points do you think is more important and urgent?
That is an exciting question. Urgent and important in this case is the classic matrix. I believe that the promotion, design and development of blockchain technology is certainly more important. The regulation of crypto currencies, on the other hand, is certainly more time-critical, and we are already right in the middle of this. In the light of the last four years, however, it can be said that the government and, above all, the supervisory authorities have found a quite reasonable middle way, in which nothing has been over-regulated and thus destroyed. On the contrary, a great deal has been made possible, even though both the BaFin and the Bundesbank, the Ministry of Finance and the consumer protection side naturally keep an eye on the issue. If there were to be a major danger to consumers and the economy as a whole, things could happen very quickly. The Federal Government’s goal is joint European regulation. With the current fifth Money Laundering Directive, we are addressing the issue, so further results will soon be achieved. Personally, I am also following the procedure in Asia with particular interest.
Since last year, the German Blockchain Association has also represented the interests of the German Blockchain scene. What influence does this have on decision-making in politics?
I think the most important thing first of all is that this association has formed and thus gives the topic a professional structure. This shows that the crypto scene is not just a few nerds in the cellar, but an important part of the FinTech sector. I wouldn’t say directly that the association has had a concrete influence on the coalition agreement, but there is already a connection. I myself am in the political