Stimulus Checks: What Is DLT, One of the Proposed New Payment Options?

Amidst the ongoing coronavirus crisis, the United States government has been sending out stimulus checks to eligible Americans to help them get through this pandemic. But, there have been many problems associated with these payments, with one of the main ones being that many Americans (about 60 million) have not yet received their stimulus checks. Because of this, several members of Congress have proposed, in a letter addressed to Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, that the United States should use blockchain technology in order to help pay Americans. What exactly does that mean?

As reported, blockchain technology falls under the umbrella of DLT (or Distributed Ledger Technology). DLT involves technologies, like blockchain, that store, distribute, and facilitate the exchange of value between different users. Under Congress' new proposal, the Treasury Department would utilize blockchain technology in order to help pay the 60 million Americans who have not reached their stimulus payment yet. According to Forbes, a letter from eleven members of Congress urged Secretary Mnuchin to "utilize private sector innovations such as blockchain and DLT to support the necessary functions of government to distribute and track relief programs and direct that all guidance support the use of technology to facilitate delivery of CARES Act benefits."

Forbes noted that this letter was part of an effort from several members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. The letter came from Congressman Tom Emmer (R-MN), Congressman David Schweikert (R-AZ), Congressman Ted Budd (R-NC), Congressman Warren Davidson (R-OH), Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Congressman Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA), Congressman Ben McAdams (D-UT), Congressman Bill Posey (R-FL), Delegate Stacey Plaskett (D-U.S. Virgin Islands), and Congressman Darren Soto (D-FL), Co-Chair of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus.

In their letter, members of Congress also urged the government to utilize this technology so that the country can stay competitive with other nations such as China. As Forbes noted, this suggestion isn't new to Congressman Soto. Back in July 2019, he was part of a letter that asked Larry Kudlow, Chair of the National Economic Council in the White House to consider the use of blockchain technology. Their letter noted, "To continue its standing as a world leader in technological innovation, the United States should engage with policymakers, the private sector, and academia to promote the research and development of blockchain technology; explore its benefits for private and public use; collaborate on cross-sectoral policy, standard-setting, scalability, and implementation issues; and discuss potential regulatory approaches."