Wyoming Business Report

LARAMIE — A state task force will meet Thursday and Friday in Laramie to discuss legislation that could shape Wyoming’s landmark blockchain laws.

If enacted, the laws under consideration could change the landscape for real estate, banking and energy, among other industries.

“I think over the next decade or two, a lot of traditional assets will be issued in blockchain form,” said Blockchain Task Force member Caitlin Long. A former University of Wyoming graduate, Long dove into blockchain through her business in New York.

Blockchain technologies use the power of a network to make a ledger more secure, said David Pope, a certified public accountant in Cheyenne who acts as executive director for the Wyoming Blockchain Coalition. In a traditional database, a single server holds the master copy of the data, which can be accessed from authorized computers. If the server is hacked or one employee is too loose with login info, you have an Equifax breach. Or an Anthem. Or a Target.

With blockchain technology, every computer or node that has a blockchain on it houses the entire database, and instead of one executive decision making vast changes to the database on demand, it takes majority approval from all computers on the chain.

“You have to attack all the computers at once” to hack into a blockchain, Pope said.

While crypto heists have occurred to the tune of $731 million in January through July 2018, proponents still argue it’s the safest way to store digital assets.

Opponents argue that digitization opens the door for more sophisticated hackers where more is at stake.

But Wyoming’s Blockchain Task Force and its Legislature have opened the door to the technology, for better or worse, already attracting companies such as Cardano — founded by the former co-founder of Ethereum — and others.

The state task force is pushing toward its next motion to tokenize assets like real estate and mineral rights. Tokens are a digital placeholder for real-world value. Wyoming firms are already chasing tokenization to do things like booking a vacation rental, where the token on the blockchain represents the stay at an Airbnb-style unit.

Long said the measure that would replace real estate deeds with digital representation tokens is more of a behind-the-scenes conversation at this point, but it could fundamentally change the game.

Currently, Teton County is part of a pilot project with a subsidiary of Overstock.com to make it the first county in the country “to record land information (including warranty deeds, mortgages, release of liens and other similar documents), on a blockchain-based platform.”

Contact Managing Editor Rebecca Huntington at 732-7078 or rebecca@jhnewsandguide.com.

Managing Editor Rebecca Huntington has worked for newspapers across the West. She hosts a rescue podcast, The Fine Line. Her family minivan doubles as her not-so-high-tech recording studio.

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