Cryptos: Overstock founder Patrick Byrne pitches radical transformation of government services via blockchain

Never one to shy away from a big bet, crytpo evangelist Patrick Byrne has some bold plans for his company in the distributed-ledger field.

The founder and CEO of Overstock.com OVER, +5.31% and the chairman of tZero, a subsidiary of Medici Ventures, is going all-in on blockchain technology, having concluded its capacity to overhaul traditional financial services is even greater than many staunch proponents believe.

Byrne, one of the earlier promoters of cryptocurrency and the technology that underpins them, said government services are ripe for a shake-up, and the answer, in his view, is blockchain.

“I am focusing on the idea of building government-as-a-service, a set of applications and companies that, between them, can bring blockchain to different services that governments provide,” Byrne told MarketWatch. “It will make government superefficient, inexpensive and incapable of being bribed.”

Read: Opinion: Overstock is more valued as a crypto company, making it a new-age Yahoo

His vision has already come to fruition in some frontier nations that are embracing the technology. He told MarketWatch that Medici’s land-governance service has titled nearly 50,000 homes using blockchain technology in Zambia and said the government there has given it rights for another 300,000 homes. “We anticipate doing the whole country,” he added. “We are building a platform where everyone can interact with the government paperlessly.”

Byrne said there’s no better example for the need to overhaul a government with technology than Venezuela. The South American nation has plunged into political and economic turmoil thanks in part to a corrupt government and dysfunctional financial system. “We could step into Venezuela with six laptops and create not only a functioning society but arguably one with the most advanced government systems in the world,” he said.

“We could bring them a central bank on the laptop. Everyone in Venezuela downloads a free app, and suddenly you have the most advanced monetary system on the planet.”

Read: This is where cryptocurrencies are actually making a difference in the world

The entrepreneur has his hands full at the moment, with Overstock.com reportedly planning to sell its retail operation in the near future as the company puts all its eggs in the blockchain basket. Furthermore, tZero, the company’s security-token trading platform launched in late January, where it hopes to onboard early-stage companies and eventually publicly traded stocks.

Read: Here’s an argument for tokenizing assets on the blockchain

But for Byrne, a desire to disrupt financial services using blockchain technology sits atop the agenda. The e-commerce guru said he expects to have a contract with more than one sovereign nation “very soon” to begin a broad government-services overhaul.

Byrne added that he does not have any thoughts on the price of major digital currencies such as bitcoin BTCUSD, +0.49%  .

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