After going through the hardest recession in its history, Northern Nevada has seen its fair share of victories in economic development. Here is a list of some of the major developments for the region in recent years.

First comes the love, then the wedding arrives, then a certificate arrives in a wooden carriage. Well, a digital block to be more precise.

At least that's how the classic song took place in Washoe for the better part of 2018 when Nevada County started using blockchain technology – a tamper-proof digital information security record – to create digital versions of licenses of marriage for hundreds of couples.

The initiative, which has its roots from Austin, Texas, in the center of Reno and even up to the Mount. Rose ski lodge, issued its first digital marriage license in April.

It officially came out of the pilot phase in June, according to Washoe County, allowing anyone who binds the knot in the area to view and send a secure digital version of their marriage license through their home computer or even their smartphone.

After serving around 950 customers at the beginning of December, the success of the digital marriage licensing program is causing the county to look at other ways it could use blockchain technology with other records.

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Washoe is not alone.

Elko County has recently started a test phase for the use of blockchain technology to create certified digital copies of birth certificates.

Titan Seal, the San Francisco-based company that Washoe has contracted for its digital marriage certificates, says it is close to concluding an agreement with one of the country's largest counties to use blockchain for its real estate records. He is also actively seeking a DMV partner in the country to potentially create a certified digital driving license through blockchain technology, said Phil Dhingra, co-founder and product leader of Titan Seal.

Titan Seal uses the Ethereum blockchain, which is one of the most established blockchain platforms in use. This means that the company platform is difficult to hack because of the resources and pure computing power that such a move would require.

"At present, we estimate that about $ 2 billion of documents a year in the United States get a certificate or a relief of a type that is paper-based," Dhingra said. "We believe that (digital certificates) at least matches the card number if it does not exceed".

The smallest small game

While no marriage is perfect, the membership of the Digital Wedding and Washoe County licenses is a union that apparently was meant to be, according to supporters.

"Reno, historically, has seen many people come here to get married," said Hunter Halcomb, a Washoe County Department Systems Engineer. "So we send a large number of certificates out of the state".

Washoe's push wheels to supply digital certificates in addition to traditional paper documents began shooting in February when the Titan Seal Dingra took part in a blockchain conference held at the Nevada Museum of Art in downtown Reno.

Dhingra, who has just moved to Reno from Austin at the time, says he sat down at a table with several officials from Washoe County and started to socialize with them.

About three weeks later, he came across Washoe County Recorder Lawrence Burtness to Mt. Rose-Ski Tahoe, which he recognized from the conference. This led to some meetings and at the end Washoe decided to give Titan Seal technology a chance.

"April 10 was the first time a person got a digital marriage license from Washoe County," Dhingra said. "The person had no idea that he was part of a pilot program."

These days, everyone who receives a Washoe card marriage certificate also gets a certified digital copy of their marriage license included. Quoting state law, the county says it can not charge a certified digital copy of a marriage license separately.

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Most of the positive feedback on digital marriage licenses comes from how fast they can be ready. Instead of having to wait seven to ten business days, the digital marriage license can be sent by e-mail to a customer in less than 24 hours, Dhingra said.

Convenience was also another factor cited by customers who love digital certificates.

"Unlike a hard copy that you may have to give to someone, you just have to buy the digital copy once and use it as often as you like," said Halcomb.

Relationship problems

As with any new disruptive development, digital marriage certificates face their share of challenges. One is acceptance, especially by people who are adversely affected by technology.

"We need to get people's e-mails and explain the process when we tell them that they can get a digital copy as well," said Halcomb. "But some people say," Nah, I do not use email, so I do not want it. "

Others, meanwhile, do not understand that they can not simply print the digital copy and then use it as a normal paper certificate. Since the blockchain behaves like a digital ledger, it must be used in digital form to be safe.

In some cases, pushback does not come from customers but from other agencies.

Halcomb estimates that the rate of acceptance of documents by the agencies they handle is around 65 percent. While institutions like the Social Security Administration are good at accepting digital certificates, agencies like DMVs can vary with acceptance.

Nevada DMV would not fully commit to accepting digital certificates, even if some customers were lucky using digital marriage licenses in places like Pahrump. DMV offices in other states can also show mixed results.

"The DMVs in the border states are our biggest problem because they actually see cases of fraud on marriage certificates," said Halcomb. "The idea of ​​a PDF marriage certificate really disturbs them and we have not been able to convince the administrators of any of these DMVs that the (digital certificates) are actually safer than the paper ones."

Despite the challenges, Washoe County is pursuing other applications for digitizing paper documents. A project the county is considering using blockchain technology for a potential disaster recovery digital record system.

Dhingra, who has since moved to San Francisco from Reno, sees such moves as the natural evolution of record keeping, especially because blockchain technology gets more acceptance.

Banks are also now seriously examining the use of blockchain technology for clearing and settlement transactions, which typically involve the exchange of cash and securities.

"Once something is put into a blockchain, it's actually better than being set in stone," Dhingra said. "Even if the entire Internet disappears, a copy of Ethereum's blockchain will exist in a computer somewhere.A few random computers may have a copy of the blockchain."

Jason Hidalgo covers business, technology and games for the Reno Gazette-Journal. Follow it up Twitter @jasonhidalgo. Local journalism support: RGJ digital subscription.

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