Blockchain, the digital ledger underpinning Bitcoin, is perhaps the cryptocurrency’s most interesting (and intelligent) feature, with its ability to securely and publicly record transactions. Given that stock trading is a confusing mishmash of property trading hands, blockchain-powered trades seems like a surprisingly good idea.
Overstock.com is an online retailer that has warmly embraced Bitcoin and the blockchain, and now it’s taking the crypto-love one step further: the US Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) has approved Overstock’s plan to issue public securities. That’s a huge step forward for the blockchain as a technology, seeing that it’s currently been limited mostly to Bitcoin.
A blockchain is a platform for making a publicly available, non-changeable register of transactions. Users can write transactions to the chain (and have them verified by a vast network of computers), but cannot subsequently delete those entries. In the absence of a central bank, it’s what keeps Bitcoin ticking.
In the hands of Overstock, that same system will power issuing company stock, via a subsidiary called TØ.com. The company hasn’t announced exactly when it will be issuing crypto-securities, but CEO Patrick Byrne told Wired it’s “high on our list of priorities for 2016”.