The bitcoin boom and Utah

SALT LAKE CITY – A Utah-based company makes a move to push to the forefront of the online currency market. Midvale’s Overstock.com announced Monday that it’s launching t-ZERO blockchain.

“Blockchain is kind of like the internet,” said Jonathan Johnson, who sits on the Board of Directors for Overstock. “The internet made transferring information really easy back and forth via email on web browsers. Block chain is going to do the same thing for assets, for currency, for votes. It’s going to allow us to trade assets freely and frictionless.”

There are hundreds of cryptocurrencies that currently exist online, currencies like Bitcoin and Litecoin. Those currencies need a platform or blockchain to trade on.

“Like email was the first killer app on the internet, bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are the first killer app on top of blockchain,” Johnson explains. “They’re the first cool asset we’re trading freely on this technology. t-ZERO’S goal is to take tokens, crypto securities that are going to be equities, like stock, and be a stock exchange. It will compete NASDAQ and NYSE for tokens and securities that want to trade on the block chain.”

Overstock says its blockchain will focus on areas like voting, land titling, assets, equities and cash banking.

“I have to tell you, crypto currency is not going anywhere,” Johnson said about its future.

It’s a notion that Wil Bown, a Salt Lake City programmer, can get behind.

“I’ve been working on it for about three years,” Bown said of his own cryptocurrency he’s building that he says will target virtual reality innovations.

“Our goal is to be the most accurate, predictive platform in the world for predicting the future of data streams: like weather, and stocks," Bown said.

Bown and a few friends started a Salt Lake bitcoin group six years ago to first explore the industry. At one point, he owned 250 bitcoin. Today, that would be worth over 4-million dollars. Sadly, he used his before they got that valuable.

Businesses around the state are starting to see the value of the online currency as well. Precision Auto Glass in Layton started using it two weeks ago.

“The one thing that brought me over is the fee is actually smaller than the credit card transfer fees by Visa, Mastercard and American Express,” said Zack Simonsen with Precision Auto Glass. He says using cryptocurrencies costs him less than one percent of a transaction, compared to 3-to-4 percent taken up by credit cards.

“It’s the currency of the future, and we wanted to jump in and take it before everybody else.”