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GCN : October and November 2016
58 GCN OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2016 • GCN.COM case study BY KAREN EPPER HOFFMAN RECORDS Officials plan to help companies and state agencies use the digital ledger technology to distribute, share and save contracts Delaware is betting on blockchain for business Delaware is a leader in creating a welcoming environment for businesses, and more than 60 percent of Fortune 500 companies are legally headquartered in Delaware. Now the corporate haven is stepping up what it offers companies with an initiative that will use blockchain tech- nology to make back-office op- erations more efficient. Gov. Jack Markell launched the Delaware Blockchain Ini- tiative in April with the goal of engaging vendors to help businesses and state agencies use blockchain technology to distribute, share and save contracts. Blockchain, which underpins the infrastructure of the Bitcoin online currency, enables a network of users to make and verify transac- tions automatically, without intermediaries, and it encrypts data as network users share information via a digital ledger. Andrea Tinianow, director of the Global Delaware initiative aimed at building and supporting business ven- tures in the state, said the plan began more than a year ago, when she and her team reached out to leaders in the blockchain community. “We understood it could be very helpful if [corporate documents] could be issued on blockchain through its dis- tributed ledger technology,” she said. First, the Delaware initiative will work on using blockchain technology to store contracts and other essential corporate data on a distributed ledger, which will allow companies and agen- cies to save their documents in more than one location, keep them secure and automate access by constituents, shareholders and employees. Other benefits include lower costs and longer documents retention, said Caitlin Long, chairman and president of Symbiont, a technology provider that is working with the state on smart contracts. “Typically, when documents are stored manually, the document is de- stroyed once the mandatory retention period passes,” Long said. “[The block- chain initiative] will solve a big prob- lem...and could be very useful to gov- ernment and public archives as well.” Indeed, the Delaware Public Ar- chives will be among the first to use the technology to archive and encrypt government documents later this year. Long pointed out that the use of block- chain means the documents can be replicated in multiple locations, pro- viding better disaster recovery and saving the cost of off-site physical storage. Earlier this year, Markell outlined a number of legal and regulatory reviews the state would undergo in order to license blockchain tech- nology and make sure it is legal and appropriate for businesses and agencies alike. Since news of Delaware’s work with blockchain technology broke, Long and Tinianow said they have fielded numerous requests from companies, associations and gov- ernment agencies in the United States and Europe that are interested in launching similar efforts. “From a corporate perspective, issu- ing shares [and] securities via block- chain could also reduce costs and hassle...and make the process more automated,” Long said, adding that it could also make communication with shareholders easier and less costly. “Everyone is pretty thrilled about the potential to create efficiencies,” Tinianow said. “We keep on finding potential opportunities for this tech- nology. This is a whole new world.” • “[The blockchain initiative] will solve a big problem...and could be very useful to government and public archives as well.” – CAITLIN LONG, SYMBIONT 1116gcn_058.indd 58 10/5/16 9:53 AM
August and September 2016
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