Lawyer: Charleston man victim of mistaken identity in DEA bitcoin seizure (copy) (copy)

Bitcoin is perhaps the best-known form of virtual currency. File/AP

A proposal to allow candidates for political office to accept cryptocurrency to fund their campaigns might be just a first step to overhauling how South Carolina law treats virtual cash, the leader of a trade group says.

Dennis Fassuliotis, executive director of PalmettoChain, led an effort to have a bill introduced in the S.C. House that would allow candidates to accept contributions in the form of digital currency. But he explained how there are a multitude of other applications for blockchain — a kind of digital ledger that keeps track of transactions — and how South Carolina law will need to evolve to keep pace.

"This is just the tip of the iceberg of what we’d like to see," he said.

Dennis Fassuliotis

Dennis Fassuliotis is executive director of PalmettoChain, a newly formed nonprofit that wants to update the way South Carolina stores its records. Provided/David Archer

Candidates would have to sell the digital currency before depositing it into a campaign account. They would also have to report if the digital currency gained value before they cashed it out. Tennessee passed similar legislation in 2015. 

The bill is in a House committee right now; Fassuliotis said he is working to find a sponsor in the Senate.

The legislation was born in part out of a House Ethics Committee decision last year that found South Carolina candidates could not accept cryptocurrency as contributions.

Bitcoin, created in 2009, is one form of cryptocurrency. An unnamed candidate for a state House seat approached the ethics committee to ask whether he or she could accept it as campaign cash. In April, the committee decided against it because "virtual" or "digital currency" wasn't defined under South Carolina law as a contribution.

The Federal Election Commission began allowing these kinds of contributions in 2014 for candidates for federal office. Other states have not been so open to the idea: North Carolina's state elections executive director decided digital currency couldn't be reliably valued or regulated, according to The News & Observer.

Though Bitcoin is anonymous by its nature, Fassuliotis said he imagines that using cryptocurrency for campaigns would add an element of transparency, since it is difficult to mask that the transaction happened.

"Records are immutable. You can’t change them," he said. "If something was put down incorrectly, it’s got to be changed by consensus."

New clients

A state-chartered entrepreneurial program announced six companies it is taking under its wing.

The South Carolina Research Authority's newest clients in its S.C. Launch initiative include hospitality, trucking and human resource firms.

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Companies in the program receive support from the agency and can be eligible for early-stage funding. Two of the new members are from the Upstate — 6AM City and True Load Time — and three are based in the Midlands: AgriLinx, Compliance Innovations and Guhroo.

The sixth is partly local: TrayAway, which began selling its product last year. has developed a small, Wi-Fi powered button that accompanies hotel food service. Guests can push the button when they're ready for their trays to be picked up and taken away.

The firm, which operates in Charleston and New Orleans, already counts some major hotel brands among its clients and reaches as far as Dubai and Brazil, locally based co-founder Will Lovett said. It hasn't been able to secure a Charleston lodging.

The software-as-a-service technology — meaning the hotel rents the device from TrayAway — also keeps tabs on how long trays have been in rooms without a staff member needing to roam the hallways.

"It’s just a much more efficient tracking technology," Lovett said.

Lovett said moving forward, TrayAway will be exploring whether it can introduce its product to hospitals.

Reach Mary Katherine Wildeman at 843-937-5594. Follow her on Twitter @mkwildeman.