In a recent interview with MarketWatch, Patrick Byrne, the founder and CEO of Overstock.com and chairman of tZero, a subsidiary of Medici Ventures, predicted that the future of government services lay with blockchain, cryptocurrencies and their associated technologies. Byrne stated that such services are currently in crucial need of fundamental structural changes and that the use of blockchain could make governments “superefficient, inexpensive and incapable of being bribed.” “I am focusing on the idea of building government-as-a-service,” Byrne said. “A set of applications and companies that, between them, can bring blockchain to different services that governments provide.” Byrne pointed to Venezuela as a real-world, present-day example of the critical need for government systems reform. The country recently established the “petro” as the first state-backed cryptocurrency but has also experienced intense political and economic turmoil due to government corruption and its dysfunctional financial system. But, Byrne claims, little enough is needed to overhaul the whole 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,” Byrne 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.” Byrne has some experience working with government services, already, thanks to his position with tZero and Medici Ventures. As he told MarketWatch, Medici’s land-governance division has used blockchain technology to title almost 50,000 homes in Zambia and has secured government rights to title another 300,000. “We anticipate doing the whole country,” Byrne said. “We are building a platform where everyone can interact with the government paperlessly.” Byrne was an early adopter and promoter of cryptocurrencies and their underpinning technologies and now points to both of these, once adopted by the government and accompanied by friendly legislation, as “the best way to ensure the US does not lose our place at the forefront of the ever-advancing global economy.” He expects to begin work with more than one sovereign nation “very soon” to radically overhaul their government services.
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