Blockchain Property Registry In Development By Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne, Economist Hernando de Soto

Announcements, Blockchain, Innovation | December 14, 2017 By:

Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne has partnered with world-renowned economist Hernando de Soto to develop a blockchain-based property registry system to ensure the property rights of billions of people in the developing world.

Byrne is an American entrepreneur and e-commerce pioneer. In 1999, Byrne launched Overstock after leading two smaller companies, including one owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. In 2002, Byrne took Overstock.com public. Since its initial public offering (IPO), Overstock.com has increased revenue to almost $1.8 billion while achieving profitability in 2009. More recently, Byrne has advocated for cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. In January 2014, Overstock.com became the first major online retailer to accept bitcoin.

Hernando de Soto is a Peruvian economist known for his work on the informal economy and on the importance of business and property rights. He is the founder and president of the Institute for Liberty and Democracy (ILD), located in Lima, Peru. Between 1988 and 1995, he and the ILD were mainly responsible for some four hundred initiatives, laws, and regulations that led to significant changes in Peru’s economic system.

Overstock subsidiary Medici Ventures, a longtime advocate for bitcoin and blockchain technology, will help de Sotto’s company, De Soto, Inc., in developing a blockchain-based system using mobile applications and social media integration that will bring to light the thousands of “disconnected ledgers” that exist at local levels in communities around the world. The goal is to promote the interests of people who are currently operating extra-legally, as well as multinational corporations who are trying to cooperate with local owners. The company expects to launch its first pilot program in early 2018.

“Working with Hernando de Soto is the honor of my lifetime,” said Byrne. “Hernando’s work has demonstrated that secure ownership of property is a catalyst that sets into motion the engine of progress, creating enormous wealth in the process. From my first public talks on blockchain I emphasized that blockchain’s application to property could lift billions out of poverty. Hernando and I intend to use blockchain technology to empower and enfranchise the five billion people who live outside formal economies within five years.”

Byrne also indicated that selling Overstock would provide enough capital to fund the project, either in segments or in its entirety. Byrne hired Guggenheim Partners to explore options for selling his Utah-based company, which has 2,000 employees.

“I envision a world in which people with rights to their property and business assets pull themselves—and their communities —out of poverty,” said de Soto. “About 80 percent of the world’s population is unable to enter into the modern global economy due to lack of visible and standardized property records. Billions of people have resources that cannot easily be transformed into productive capital. Blockchain is a powerful tool to solve these structural issues, which are some of the principal causes of poverty and conflict.”

“One of our main missions is to democratize capital – to help the poorest members of society participate in global markets,” said Jonathan Johnson, president of Medici Ventures. “Hernando’s work proves that implementing policies to surface and protect property rights undermines terrorist organizations and promotes the prosperity of those who were previously forced to operate outside the formal economic system. Blockchain can solve this problem. It’s great to be partnering with Hernando to bring this vision to reality.”