Louis Vuitton and Prada use it to swat back knockoffs. Topps hopes it’ll change the game on baseball card collecting. And, individuals are making millions using it to sell digital art, tweets and, in at least one case, his own genome.
“It” is blockchain technology. Most people will know blockchain through cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Or maybe because NFTs (non-fungible tokens) managed on blockchain recently dominated headlines. That’s what got me wondering about blockchain in our backyard.
Worldwide, it’s estimated that blockchain technologies could boost the global economy by $1.76 trillion by the end of the decade. Are we getting a taste of that? Sort of.
Greer-based Treis Blockchain has set up a data mining operation, processing digital currency and other blockchain transactions.
In North Augusta, Validide uses blockchain to decentralize identity management (like a forever ID with all your info—seriously, all of it).
In Hampton County, blockchain enabled data storage from Bellevue, Washington-based Core Scientific will be integral to a planned $314 million agricultural technology campus.
ShipChain also spent three years in the Upstate building blockchain-based ledger for international logistics until efforts to raise funds by issuing its own digital currency drew the ire of the state. Then the Securities and Exchange Commission followed up with fines that effectively shuttered the company in December.
That story shows just how murky the legal waters are for blockchain technology, even as its popularity soars. So, a South Carolina group, Palmetto Chain, is pushing for friendly laws. Talk with cofounders Gordon Jones and Dennis Fassuliotis, and you’ll hear a ton of arguments why that would be an economic development win for South Carolina.
They say South Carolina should look more like Wyoming. That great, square state paved a runway for commercial and personal blockchain activity with comprehensive legislation, and companies are landing. Economic impact data is hard to find, but Wyoming’s blockchain rep is solid among enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and big tech players.
With every corner of our state looking to boost the tech economy, blockchain ought to be part of that conversation. It’s likely to become one of those essential business tools, like Internet connectivity, which is showing us right now how it looks when we’re scrambling to catch up.
This article originally appeared in Upstate Business Journal in May 2021.