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Get Gephardt: Utah considering getting into blockchain technology

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Imagine closing on a house without having to use a closing company, making a car payment without needing a bank to wire the money or sending a confidential document with 100% certainty a hacker couldn't get their hands on it. It's all possible, say proponents of what's called blockchain technology. (Photo: KUTV)

Imagine closing on a house without having to use a closing company, making a car payment without needing a bank to wire the money or sending a confidential document with 100% certainty a hacker couldn't get their hands on it.

It's all possible, say proponents of what's called blockchain technology.

Michael McKell is a lawyer who says he would love a more secure way to communicate with clients.

“Right now it seems there are some great big [internet service providers] that control the market--Google, Bing--that control your data," he said.

McKell is in a position to do something about it. In addition to his day job, he's also Rep. McKell serving in the state legislature. He is pushing for state studies to study whether Utah should invest in blockchain technology or adopt policies that would bring blockchain business to the state.

Overstock.com CEO Jonathan Johnson thinks it’s a good idea. He's an expert on blockchain which he says makes business more efficient by cutting out the middle man.

"It's kind of like, when I was a kid I'd trade baseball cards,” Johnson said. “I'd hold the half of the card I was trading and the half of the card I wanted, and we’d say '1,2,3' and let go.’ Blockchain lets us do that digitally."

Digital assets like money, titles or even votes could be transferred using blockchain technology.

Johnson says one of the best features of blockchain is its security. In addition to high levels of crypto-security, blockchain takes information, dissects it and spreads it out.

"It's decentralized so there's not one honeypot for a hacker to try and hack into," Johnson said.

Perhaps it’s more secure from hackers, but without a middleman playing referee, it begs the question: are blockchain transaction going to be more susceptible to fraud?

McKell says he does not believe so.

"What I have been told and what I've read and seen is that it'll actually be much, much more secure,” McKell said. “I think the future is going to be in block chain. The biggest concern is it's new and new is sometimes scary."

In addition to its consumer benefits, McKell says blockchain is expected to be a $20 billion industry by 2024. He points to Utah’s high-tech industry, including Silicon Slopes, as a reason Utah should be a leader adapting the emerging technology, which he expects will bring more tech jobs to Utah.

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