House Republicans lead on blockchain discussion

Staff Report

Speaker Ryan Smith speaking at the podium and discusses the future of blockchain in Ohio.

Speaker Ryan Smith speaking at the podium and discusses the future of blockchain in Ohio.

Courtesy photo

COLUMBUS — Speaker of the Ohio House Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) recently joined with members of the House Leadership Team and Majority Caucus to discuss the future of blockchain in Ohio, in both the public and private sector.

Joined by chief experts on the issue from around the state, legislators conveyed interest in connecting the legislature with more information on the benefits of blockchain technology.

As the utilization of blockchain increases, a press conference shed light on the state of blockchain technology and its potential to drive economic and workforce development, as well as the opportunity to increase government efficiency and strengthen cybersecurity measures. Blockchain allows for the creation of secure lists of records linked to one another. This includes electronic medical records, smart contracts, online voting, logistics management materials, government benefit transfers and title transfers. Essentially, in a blockchain transaction, a “block” is created that contains the details of the transaction. The information is visible to only those within the network but they are encrypted in a way to prevent them from being altered.

Joined by fellow legislators Reps. Bill Reineke (R-Tiffin), Rick Carfagna (R-Genoa Township), Laura Lanese (R-Grove City), Scott Ryan (R-Newark) and Gary Scherer (R-Circleville), Smith highlighted the need for the legislature to look at the issue of blockchain more closely and possibly develop legislation on the issue in the future. Other states, including Arizona, Illinois and Nevada have already taken legislative action related to blockchain.

“Ohio continues to lead on various technological fronts, and blockchain technology is a great opportunity for our state to prevent brain-drain and keep talent in Ohio to make us a leader in technological advancement and economic and workforce development,” Smith said. “The underlying use of blockchain technology can be utilized for a multitude of purposes and has the potential to innovate state government, making it more efficient, secure and transparent.”

Legislators were joined by Matt Wald, President and CEO of the Columbus Collaboratory, which is a company that specializes in advanced analytics and cybersecurity.

“Blockchain and related internet technologies will help to create the next level of process efficiency opportunities and drive new innovative applications, ” said Wald. ”Ohio has become a technology leader in a number of critical and growing industries, thanks in large part to our state’s embrace of advanced technologies such as blockchain.”

Jim Korcykoski, Chief Technology & Information Security Officer at Nationwide Insurance, also participated in the press conference to talk about the use of blockchain at major insurance and finance companies, such as Nationwide.

“Nationwide is committed to advancing blockchain technology and the potential for disruption across several industries, including insurance and financial services,” Korcykoski said. “We applaud Speaker Smith for bringing together a diverse group of leaders from business, government, academia, and technology to help position Ohio as a leader in this new, exciting arena, and we look forward to working with the legislature and the business community to help build on the momentum that’s been established so far.”

Efforts on this issue have been led in northeast Ohio by Bernie Moreno, President of the Bernie Moreno Companies and President of Ownum.

“If Ohio is to become a leader in blockchain technology, then it is critical that state leaders recognize and take advantage of this incredible opportunity,” Moreno said. “It is clear that Speaker Smith sees blockchain’s potential. My hope is that other statewide officials can do the same. By embracing blockchain, Ohio can reposition itself as a national leader in digital transformation and innovation. That will attract hundreds of start-ups to Ohio and create lots of high paying jobs.”

Workforce development was a major part of the discussion as this field continues to grow. Professor Hesham El Gamal, Chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at The Ohio State University, shared his experience on this front.

“It is commendable that the state legislature has recognized the importance of blockchain as a potential transformational technology,” El Gamal said. “OSU is in a perfect position to assist the legislature with a state-wide effort to leverage this technology for economic development and workforce education and training.”

The press conference can be viewed here:

Speaker Ryan Smith speaking at the podium and discusses the future of blockchain in Ohio. Ryan Smith speaking at the podium and discusses the future of blockchain in Ohio. Courtesy photo

Staff Report