What 'Blockchain' Is, and Why Nevada Wants Companies That Use it

Nevada is looking to get out ahead of the pack when it comes to attracting businesses that use blockchain technology.

That technology, and its application for businesses, was the topic of the day Tuesday at a conference for leaders in government and Nevada's tech industry.

Blockchain is a storage mechanism for information, most often associated with cryptocurrency like bitcoin, but you can use it for any information, from financial transactions to medical records.

"It allows us to fix a lot of the things that are on the internet now that we are afraid of putting private data out there," Governor's Office of Economic Development Executive Director Paul Anderson said. "This will help secure that data."

Blockchain's model stores information in a decentralized way, unlike most storage networks now, which have a central server, vulnerable to hacking. The people at Tuesday's conference see blockchain's more secure model as the future for a huge number of industries, and they want Nevada to be at the forefront.

"We want to be on the cutting edge," Anderson said. "We are neighbors to Silicon Valley, some of the most innovative technology companies in the world. Reno is perfectly situated, Washoe County in general, to complement those technologies and those companies."

One of those companies is local nonprofit BitGive. Its platform allows people to track donations to charities using blockchain.

"You can watch in real time," BitGive Founder Connie Gallippi said. "Money moving, where it's going, what it is being used for, all on a public ledger."

Nevada is attracting these companies partly because of a bill (SB398) passed in the 2017 legislative session that bans taxes on blockchain use.