Bitcoin has been shaking up the world of finance, but its underlying technology—known as blockchain—may yet have an even more pervasive effect. Now, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has given the green light for shares to be issued on the blockchain.

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According to public documents filed by the company Overstock, the SEC has approved it to issue publicly traded shares via blockchain-based technology. Wired notes that Overstock’s already used the blockchain to issue private bonds, but that didn’t require approval from the SEC.

You can think of the blockchain as a kind of global ledger which keeps accurate track of the exchange of money, and that’s how it’s used by Bitcoin. But anything that has a value—from property to stocks—can in theory also be recorded using the same concept.

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The move to allow stock to be publicly traded using the technology, then, is big news. And it may yet prove to be the start of an entirely different approach to the way that financial systems are managed in the future.

[WIRED]

Image by Stéfan under Creative Commons license