BYU alumnus says blockchain technology is the future

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Overstock.com
BYU alumnus Jonathan Johnson is the President of Medici Ventures — a company focusing on advancing and investing in blockchain technology. He believes the technology will help make things both faster and cheaper. (Overstock.com)

Medici Ventures is a company focused on advancing blockchain technology. President Jonathan Johnson sat down with The Universe to share more about the new technology.

The BYU alumnus has worked for Overstock.com for sixteen years. He started working for the company in their legal department after graduating from the BYU law school.

He eventually made his way to the position of president and shortly after, chairman of the board. But for the last year and a half, Johnson has served as the head of Medici Ventures — Overstock’s blockchain business.

We’re investing in companies that are using blockchain technology to change voting, land titling, stock markets and banks,” Johnson said.

Blockchain is the technology used to create a log of digital transactions using bitcoin and other currencies. Johnson said this technology ensures what you receive digitally is not a copy, but is the real thing.

Overstock began using blockchain technology about four years ago. The company now accepts bitcoin payments in over fifty different cryptocurrencies. Medici Ventures was started as a separate subsidiary company and is used to invest in companies using blockchain technology for money and human capital in new ways.

There’s a company we’ve invested in the Caribbean that’s creating a digital wallet for people that can’t get bank accounts,” Johnson said. “If you don’t have a bank account you have to carry cash everywhere, it’s dangerous.”

He said people don’t have to worry about safety and are capable of making transactions in the twenty-first-century economy by having a digital wallet. 

Johnson said the company also invested in a voting company last month. This voting company will allow voters to have an app on their phone for sending in ballots. He said the app would ask for identity verification through fingerprints or an iris scan and let people send their vote to whatever city they are registered in. Each vote would be encrypted, keeping the ballot anonymous but also allowing the voter to see if their vote had been counted by the clerk.

“There’s also identity,” Johnson said. “ Think about how many people you give information about yourself to that you’d rather not give them. Your bank, for example, knows your Social Security number, they probably now your first pet’s name, and the name of your 5th grade teacher.”

Johnson said using blockchain technology for personal information would help people gain better digital control and security over their identity.

Johnson said he believes things will be cheaper and faster in the future.

“We’ve eliminated the middle intermediaries,” he said. “I think you and I will be able to conduct commerce and interact with each other in a more personal way.”

Johnson said people wouldn’t have to go through several brokers to invest in a stock. Instead, they could get the share immediately transferred to them digitally through blockchain technology.

Johnson urges people to first educate themselves on blockchain if they are hesitant to try blockchain technology. He said trying to better understand it is key.

Learn about it, get comfortable with it and try it,” Johnson said.

For more information on Medici Ventures and blockchain technology visit their website.

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