A New Cryptocurrency Frontier: Blockchain technology makes strides in Wyoming
The U.S. state of Wyoming has passed more than a dozen blockchain laws to provide digital assets with a legal framework. The state said that the move was aimed to scale-up the industry and boost the local economy.
Welcome to Cheyenne Frontier Days, billed as the "World's Largest Outdoor Rodeo and Western Celebration". This 10-day event, held each summer, showcases Wyoming's rich western heritage. That doesn't mean, folks who live here say, that their state is stuck in the past.
TARA NETHERCOTT, SENATOR WYOMING STATE "We recognize the need to be visionary and forward-thinking. We always have been, and we always will be, and this is just part of that culture that we have here in Wyoming."
These are some of the residents who see a new and potentially lucrative opportunity in blockchain technology-a digital ledger system, which records transactions across many computers and, its proponents argue, is virtually hack-proof.
MIKE BOROWCZAK PROF. OF COMPUTER SCIENCE UNIV. OF WYOMING ASST. "The advantage is that you don't have a single point of failure. Instead of relying on one core entity to solve a problem, you now can distribute that amongst many people."
A few years ago, Wall Street investor Caitlin Long was prevented from donating the digital currency Bitcoin to her alma mater, the University of Wyoming, because bitcoin was illegal. Her reaction?
CAITLIN LONG, CO-FOUNDER WYOMING BLOCKCHAIN COALITION "Guys this is a problem. We got to get this fixed. And that's how the ball got rolling. We did a lot more than fix that law."
HENDRIK SYBRANDY CHEYENNE, WYOMING "Over the past two years, the Wyoming legislature has passed more than a dozen blockchain laws, providing digital assets a legal framework. That's key to scaling-up the industry."
That's the Wyoming Blockchain Coalition's goal. A number of tech-related companies, encouraged by the state's crypto-friendly environment, have or are planning to move here. One Wyoming county's land records are already being transferred to a blockchain system.
ROB JENNINGS, CEO BEEFCHAIN "I think the blockchain's the future, right?"
Certainly, says Beefchain C.E.O. Rob Jennings out on the range. At a time when consumers want to know the history of an animal, all sorts of information about Jennings' cattle is recorded on blockchain.
ROB JENNINGS, CEO BEEFCHAIN "Not only where it came from, but the humane handling of the animal, whether it's non-hormone treated, whether it's all natural or whatever claims are around it. A lot of that was being done previously with paper."
JOHN WIDDOWSON NEBRASKA RANCHER "A book's not really good if you just read one chapter here, one chapter there. It's when you put all the chapters together, and so that's what blockchain is going to do. It's going to allow us to put all the different sectors of the cattle industry together."
There are even plans to tokenize the century-old and long-abandoned Hynds building in Cheyenne, making it easier, some say, for community members to chip in and help save it.
DAVID BOYD, CO-FOUNDER WYOMING BLOCKCHAIN COALITION "It will drive down the cost of entry into the investment, so more people can participate in the growth of the value of the building."
At a time when the state's coal industry is in decline, enthusiasts say blockchain is re-writing Wyoming history and changing the state's economic landscape.
In fact, Long and others say, Wyoming, always known for business innovation, is the perfect place for this new industry.
CAITLIN LONG, CO-FOUNDER WYOMING BLOCKCHAIN COALITION "Well there's an ethos in this community which is rugged individualism, personal responsibility."
Allowing, she says, the state to charge ahead in this wildly different direction.
CAITLIN LONG, CO-FOUNDER WYOMING BLOCKCHAIN COALITION "So it's coming. We're so far ahead."
In the hope is that it produces positive results. Hendrik Sybrandy, CGTN, Cheyenne, Wyoming.