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As Wyoming starts the process of creating a stable token, officials worry about federal pushback

Bitcoin's price has risen sharply since earlier this month, when a split took place that created "bitcoin classic" and "bitcoin cash."
Manuel Romano
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Wyoming may be the first state to create its own government-issued stablecoin in the U.S.

The Wyoming Stable Token Commission held its first meeting Monday, May 8. Officials want the Cowboy State to continue on its path as a pioneer in cryptocurrency, but questions remain over the federal legal viability of a government-issued stablecoin.

The state legislature established the commission this year that’s tasked with creating a virtual currency backed by the U.S. dollar by the end of this year, called a stablecoin. If that happens, Wyoming would be creating the first government-issued cryptocurrency in the U.S. Much of the meeting’s focus was on the next steps to getting that done.

Gov. Mark Gordon led discussion with a packed room full of cryptocurrency industry representatives and state officials. He asked for feedback regarding what advisors the commission needs as it creates a stablecoin, what deadlines it must hit and how to go about figuring out if a state-issued token is legal.

“It is quite clear this is new and different,” Gordon said. “It's also quite clear that our federal friends may not look as favorably on it as we would like.”

Wyoming is already wrapped up in a lawsuit over banks that handle digital assets. Federal officials rejected a Cheyenne-based bank that focuses on crypto from becoming a member of the federal reserve system, in part due to concerns that its business model is too risky.

Gordon said he wants the commission to reach out to federal officials about the legality of a stablecoin early in the process so that they don’t become the “Lucy to our Charlie Brown” if the state does issue something.

“We want to make sure that we meet the letter of the law, but we also want to get this done,” he said. “To whatever degree there's a challenge on that, I hope that we can work through that before we have a finding that this is not possible.”

During testimony, several crypto industry representatives said creating a stable token is a multi-billion dollar opportunity for the state.

Will Walkey is a contributing journalist and former reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. Through 2023, Will was WPR's regional reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau. He first arrived in Wyoming in 2020, where he covered Teton County for KHOL 89.1 FM in Jackson. His work has aired on NPR and numerous member stations throughout the Rockies, and his story on elk feedgrounds in Western Wyoming won a regional Murrow award in 2021.

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