Wyoming Doubles Up on Blockchain with University Center


Wyoming is now home to a college-level blockchain center, another sign of the state’s deep investment in blockchain technology.

The University of Wyoming (UW) announced the opening of its Center for Blockchain and Digital Innovation earlier last week. As noted by a UW press release, only a few other US universities, including Duke University and Cornell University, have a similar type of center.

“This technology will fundamentally change the way businesses and consumers operate in the future, just as the Internet did,” said Steven Lupien, director of the UW center, in the release.

The center is interdisciplinary, with links to UW colleges of economics, engineering and applied sciences, agriculture, natural resources and law. This fall, the center will help establish a minor degree program. UW also plans to offer technical degree certificates and a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in common law.

“One of the most important things is to train our students to be prepared for this new era coming to our state,” College of Business Dean Dave Sprott said in the statement.

Lupien told Wyoming Public Media that the center will also have a research laboratory.

“We are doing research on things like, how near field communications will interact with the blockchain,” Lupien said. “Near Field Communication is essentially the chip that sits in the phone that allows Apple Pay or Google Pay to work just by touching the phone.”

Another major driving factor behind the center is Wyoming’s focus on attracting the blockchain industry. The state has approved more than a dozen bills to make itself friendlier to blockchain companies.

Caitlin Long, who chairs UW’s blockchain hackathon and was part of the Wyoming Blockchain Task Force, said Government technology last fall, more companies registered in Wyoming after the state passed various blockchain laws, although the exact number of blockchain-specific companies could not be determined.

In 2018, said Scott Burke, CEO of blockchain startup BlockCrushr Government technology who decided to open an office in Wyoming for its welcoming atmosphere.

“Wyoming is one of the best places in the United States to do business,” Burke said. “Between low start-up costs, the country’s most business-friendly tax system, and regulators who focus on supporting and promoting the growth of innovative fintech companies and technologies, Wyoming makes sense.”

In September, thanks to a decision by the Wyoming banking division, the state became home to the first special deposit institution – essentially a bank dealing with digital assets, such as Bitcoin – in the world.

“Wyoming today became the first US state to approve a bank card for digital assets,” Governor Mark Gordon told Twitter. “The new Wyoming card will allow those who use digital assets, such as cryptocurrency, to access reliable financial services, protect consumers and allow companies a way to store digital assets securely.”

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