Blockchain initiatives going mainstream

Governor Jack Markell recently announced a new suite of programs that aim to encourage Delaware-incorporated companies to use and develop distributed ledgers and smart contract technology, “Delaware has long been the jurisdiction of choice for the most innovative companies in the world.”

- Governor Jack Markell

The Delaware based initiative is working closely with blockchain company Symbiont, to focus on the technical aspects of the initiative. “It is our mission at Symbiont to work with market-leading institutions and we are delighted to work with The State of Delaware,” said Mark Smith, CEO of Symbiont. “Given its leadership position in incorporation services, it's an ideal proving ground for smart contracts.”

Symbiont’s flagship product, Smart Securities, “allows for complex financial instruments to be modeled in an easy to understand programming language and fully digitized onto a distributed ledger.”

Smart Securities promises to transform the way that issuance, trading and settlement takes place in the capital markets. “By making programmable versions of traditional securities available on a distributed ledger, the platform will allow institutional and retail users to issue, trade and process a range of instruments more efficiently in a single, global, decentralized and distributed peer-to-peer financial network,” stated an early press release by Symbiont.

- Symbiont


Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP will also be working with the initiative. The full-service law firm with an industry focus on energy and natural resources, financial services including financial institutions, real estate and construction, and technology, will focus will on developing the legal infrastructure.

“We are honored to be chosen as Delaware’s legal ambassadors to the blockchain industry,” said Marco Santori, leader of Pillsbury’s Blockchain Technology focus team. “The Delaware Blockchain initiative presents a tremendous opportunity for our attorneys to apply their deep experience in distributed ledgers to do true social and economic good.”

Governor Markell will unveil the full details of this evolving initiative at an opening keynote presentation for the Consensus 2016 conference in New York City on the 2nd of May.

The Delaware Blockchain Initiative is one of many advocating blockchain. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab recently announced a US$900,000 Bitcoin Developer Fund, to aid independent research in Bitcoin associated technology.

The MIT Media Lab is an interdisciplinary research laboratory, that is devoted to projects involving the convergence of technology, multimedia, sciences, art and design. The lab was founded by MIT Professor Nicholas Negroponte and former MIT President Jerome Wiesner.

In April last year, MIT Media Lab launched The Digital Currency Initiative (DCI). “When we started the Digital Currency Initiative (DCI) at MIT, our goal was to create an environment that enabled diversity of work and thought on cryptocurrencies among students, researchers and open-source developers,” wrote Brian Forde, Director of Digital Currency at the MIT Media Lab.

Gavin Andresen, Wladimir van der Laan, and Cory Fields, three of the leading developers of the Bitcoin Core project, recently filled positions at the MIT Media Lab. This move attracted attention from companies and individuals with offers of financial support, which led to the Bitcoin Developer Fund.

- Brian Forde, Director of Digital Currency at the MIT Media Lab

The end goal of the fund is to cover salaries, travel and overall support of Bitcoin protocol development efforts, including events like the Scaling Bitcoin workshop series. “Donors include companies (BitFury, Bitmain, Chain, Circle and Nasdaq) and individuals (Jim Breyer, Jim Pallotta, Jeff Tarrant, Reid Hoffman and Fred Wilson),” stated Forde. Several of their donors asked to contribute in bitcoin, and MIT duly created a wallet for donors.

Further afield, in West Africa, another blockchain initiative launched by Bitland Global hopes to free up potential capital. “As the organization grows, they look to build infrastructure in developing countries to potentially unlock billions of dollars in untapped property rights,” states Bitland

Land title disputes are not a new issue in Ghana. Over the last 17 years, The Land Administration Project has been working towards solving the land dispute problem. However, corruption and nepotism has hindered efforts to consolidate and track land titles.  

Bitland, is hoping to solve this issue by immutably and transparently registering land titles on a public blockchain. The nonprofit is also tackling the blockchain educational hurdle head on, by directly informing citizens in Ghana about blockchain technology and how it can change their lives for the better.

- Bitland

The Bitland project is being piloted in 28 communities within Kumasi, Ghana, with intentions to expand across Africa in the next few years. “While the current team is making connections locally in Ghana, the company looks to have their services available globally within five years.  With a combination of remote workers and key partnerships, Bitland is looking to assist governments in solving land disputes in areas that are currently beyond their reach,” states Bitland