Yesterday, the Liechtenstein parliament approved the Blockchain Act during a first hearing. After months of discussions, the law is now in the final stage.
MP Daniel Seger (FBP) nailed it in one sentence, “We have to decide if we want to be pioneers, followers, or copycats.”
The Blockchain Act has been discussed for more than one year. Now we’re in the final stages. Although many MPs admitted during yesterday’s session that blockchain regulations are a complex topic and the technology’s potential is not easy to understand, the overwhelming majority of MPs believe the opportunities outweigh the risks.
Proposals need to pass two hearings before the parliament officially approves new legislation
The legislative process to introduce new laws in Liechtenstein works like this:
- The government drafts up a proposal for new legislation. Often, there will be external experts involved to consult the government. In the case of the Blockchain Act, this consultation process took several months and the draft for the law was sent to the parliament last month.
- After the parliament has received the proposal, there will be two separate hearings during which MPs can ask questions and debate the law. At the end of the second hearing, the parliament will conclude to either introduce the law or reject the proposal.
Yesterday’s hearing was the first, a second will follow. Hence, the parliament has not yet made a final decision. However, most MPs are in favor of the Blockchain Act andit’s unlikely that the law won’t pass.
MPs believe the opportunities of the Blockchain Act outweigh the risks
During the hearing, the parliament discussed the risks and opportunities of the Blockchain Act.
MP Günter Vogt (VU) said, „There are opportunities for Liechtenstein, but there are also risks for Liechtenstein’s reputation.” While Vogt acknowledged the law is an opportunity for Liechtenstein’s economy to take the lead in an emerging technology, he also reminded the parliament of the various scandals over the last years.
Elfried Hasler (FBP) pointed out that the primary purpose of the law is to create legal certainty in an industry that today still lacks crucial laws and regulations. “It’s about protecting consumers,” said Hasler. “But businesses require legal certainty as well. The law will increase the attractiveness of the domestic economy. But yes, it is a nascent technology, which also brings uncertainty and there is a large number of malicious actors in this industry.”
He also believes that those malicious actors are just one more reason to regulate blockchain technology. Not taking any actions because of potential risks cannot be the solution, said Hasler.
Daniel Oehry (FBP) said it’s not a question of whether or not we want to use blockchain technology. The technology is already there and it’s impossible to block technological progress. Thus, the role of the government is to create the legal framework within all participants can operate.
„I believe the opportunities far outweigh the risks,” said Oerty. “Ask yourself, when was the last time that we have had such positive feedback for creating legislation.” He also reminded the parliament that if needed, lawmakers can still make amendments to the law at a later stage.
Wolfgang Marxer (Freie Liste) believes the Blockchain Act is a unique opportunity for Liechtenstein. While neighboring countries are usually faster in creating legislation, the Blockchain Act is “Made in Liechtenstein,” he says. Liechtenstein has the chance to take the lead in a new technology, even though its full potential is not yet known.
At the end of the hearing, all MPs agreed to accept the draft, which means it will go into the second hearing.