Overstock Invests Millions in Blockchain Voting

Internet retail giant Overstock.com has invested heavily in a mobile blockchain-based voting platform called Voatz. The funding was committed through a subsidiary of Overstock called Medici Ventures, which focuses solely on the use of blockchain technology to “solve real-world problems,” a Voatz press release explains. Voatz raised more than $2.2 million in seed round funding, led by Medici Ventures and including investments from Oakhouse Partners, Urban Innovation Fund, Walt Winshall, Joe Caruso, Michael Dornbrook, members of the Walnut Ventures angels group, and others.

Voatz Offers a Blockchain Voting System

The Voatz platform enables voting on secure tablets or smartphones. The company states that it feels it has solved many of the challenges that have beleaguered internet-based voting systems in the past, including security, anonymity and auditability. It bases this claim on its use of biometric security measures and its blockchain-based ID-authentication, record-keeping and auditing capabilities.

“Democracy will benefit greatly from critical improvements blockchain technology can bring to voting systems. For example, providing secure, immutable record keeping will bring greater confidence in accurate results, and ease of use will lower the barrier to entry for citizens to participate in elections,” Medici Ventures President Jonathan Johnson says. Similarly, Julie Lein, Managing Partner of the Urban Innovation Fund, says Voatz’ mobile-first strategy can improve voter participation rates and “democratiz[e] voting.”

Voatz has already been implemented by state political parties, universities, labor unions, nonprofits and religious institutions. More than 70,000 voters have used it so far. It is based in Boston and is now working on deploying its system for Massachusetts town meeting votes.

Overstock Is Pro-Blockchain and Cryptocurrency

Overstock continues to be at the forefront of online retailers embracing cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology – in 2014 it became the first major retailer to accept bitcoin, and in 2017, it adopted the use of the major alt-coins Ethereum, Litecoin, Monero, Dash and Bitcoin Cash. Medici Ventures has made multiple investments in blockchain tech and in 2016, its majority-owned fintech company t0.com executed the first blockchain-based stock offering.

Julia Travers

Julia Travers is a writer. Her work appears with NPR, Earth Island Journal, Discover Magazine, On Being and SciArt Magazine, among other publications. She's on Twitter @traversjul.

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