Below is a guest opion article submitted for publication on this blog by private business owner John B. Strong. Mr. Strong grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma and moved to New Mexico in 1997. He started and Art Gallery in Santa Fe in 2000 that he now operates with his partner Carlos Acosta. John Strong has been investing in startups since 2004. He is a co-founder or board member at several different companies, mostly in technology, healthcare, and financial services. Mr. Strong was recently the Chairman of Scout Security, a company that was taken over from Kickstarter to an IPO and listing on the Sydney Stock Exchange. Mr. Strong describes himself as being “obsessed with entrepreneurship and small businesses.” In the interest of full disclosure, John B. Strong is also a member of the Advisory Board of Devvio, a local firm mentioned in the article.
(NOTE: The opinions expressed in this article are those of John Strong and do not necessarily reflect those of the political blog www.petedinelli.com blog).
The following article is the article:
“Not many people yet realize that there is an emerging technology that is set to dwarf all others, including the internet and the advent of cellphones. This technology will be transformational to almost every industry in the world, and to us as individuals as well. It’s the blockchain, not to be confused with crypto currencies, which most people are now becoming at least aware of if not familiar with. Crypto currencies will basically reside on the blockchain itself, which is an immutable ledger of transactions. That doesn’t sound like such a big deal until you consider what it can do.
Blockchains cannot be altered or changed in any way, and if you place information or transactions on them, they are secure forever and unalterable. Consider what that means…. Your phone in the blockchain will never be able to be hacked, your emails are impossible to be read or be stolen, and credit card fraud would be a thing of the past. Instead of spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on closing costs and title fees on a real estate transaction, it will be done for a few dollars in a few seconds. Selling a car? Same thing. Voting?, there will be no way to steal a vote from someone else or alter the result in any way. Identity theft will be a bad memory. Sending money to someone anywhere in the world will be of no consequence at all.
Recently someone sent $1,000,000 for a total fee of .10 cents across the world and it was received in less than 30 seconds. The implications of this are staggering for almost every industry on earth, including insurance, financial services and banking, pharmaceuticals and healthcare, commerce and supply chain management of every kind, management of the Internet of things (IOT) and operations of government agencies and cities. Our children and grandchildren will laugh at hearing of the embarrassment of hacked emails, or phones. It is in short, a very big deal.
If you look back only one year ago, almost every high profile CEO including guys like Jamie Dimon (CEO of J P Morgan Chase) were characterizing this industry as fraud and pie in the sky. Today? Every single large business is scrambling to develop their own blockchain components.
So if you’re wondering why I titled this “Keeping up with Wyoming” here’s why…Wyoming, of all places has had the foresight to decide that it will stake its claim to this emerging industry. How? By passing a series of legislation to both legalize the different uses of the blockchain and crypto currencies, and to promote incubating blockchain and crypto startups in a friendly regulatory environment. Their legislature has passed no less than 13 laws governing the industry in the last year, including laws that:
1. Classify digital tokens as an asset instead of a security, this is important because regulating assets is the express purview of states. Wyoming is the first elected body “In the world” to do this.
2. Recognize direct property rights for individual owners of digital assets of all types
3. Creates a fintech sandbox to provide regulatory relief to financial innovators from existing laws for up to 3 years.
4. Authorizes a new type of state-chartered depository institution to provide basic banking services to blockchain and other businesses.
We all know that Capital ultimately flows to where it’s treated best. For digital assets within the US, I’m pretty confident that will end up being Wyoming, but it doesn’t have to be. Forbes has said that Wyoming means to be “The Digital asset Delaware” and Bloomberg has said that Wyoming aims to be the “Digital Asset Capital of the US”. There’s a lot to be gained here, and in New Mexico we can take our share of this easier than you may think. If we make a commitment to passing this type of legislation, we can certainly catch up to Wyoming quickly, and in some ways we can go further and be more regulatory friendly. We also have a secret weapon that they (and no other state) will ever have…. Two national labs in Los Alamos and Sandia, and along with them are thousands of Phd level brains that are tailor maid for this emerging industry.
In New Mexico we can be the Silicon Valley of this emerging technology, and also its logical home. The stakes are high, and the time to start is now, as there will soon be hundreds of these startups looking for the best regulatory and business friendly home to locate in, that also has the depth of talent nearby. In Wyoming, they are the most unlikely place to have made these efforts, but they are getting significant attention for having done so, while in New Mexico we really are the logical place for these businesses.
So what is actually keeping us from it? I’m not sure I know the answer to that question, as no one is asking the state to put up large amounts of money here, just legislation, and that doesn’t really cost anything. This industry doesn’t need subsidies like the film industry or financial support from the State. It just needs a nurturing legal and regulatory environment to get off the ground. We have an opportunity to gain thousands of high paying jobs, and possibly a couple of companies that can grow into behemoths if we play our cards right.
Think I’m kidding? Just take a look a one startup that’s already here. Devvio (www.devv.io) is a local blockchain platform founded by Albuquerque’s very own Tom Anderson. It is already the fastest platform in the world, able to process hundreds of times more transactions per second than Visa/Mastercard. They are already inking major contracts with Fortune 50 companies, and have attracted incredibly important leadership with global credentials, including Ray Quintana, a former Managing director at the hugely successful Cottonwood Technology fund, and General Vincent Stewart who recently retired as the Deputy Commander of U.S. Cyber Command, and prior to that was the Commander of the Defense Intelligence Agency. He is recognized as one of the three or four top global authorities on cyber security. Guys at his rank join the boards of companies like Microsoft or IBM, not small startups in New Mexico, so this is pretty impressive. He is arguably the most important person to join a New Mexico company in the last twenty years.
I have personally mentioned this to several of our top elected leaders (I won’t mention any names here) and do you think a single one asked if they could meet him at some point? Of course not, and that is a big part of the problem, we tend to think in the past and if we are lucky our leaders think a bit into the present, but not so much to the future.
So if you’ve read this thus far, the next time you meet one of your elected officials or political figures, ask them what they are doing to claim our share of the largest emerging industry on earth. And if they don’t know what your talking about tell them to study up. Our future may depend in it.”
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