Mercedes Dealer and Bitcoin Supporter Revs Up Blockchain in Crypto-Friendly Ohio
Cleveland-based entrepreneur Bernie Moreno, whose Mercedes-Benz and Porsche dealerships became the first in North America to accept Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and other cryptocurrencies as payment options, is expanding his blockchain startup, Ownum, with new hire Randy Cole, a former top Ohio administration official.
Cole, who is leaving his state job at the Ohio Turnpike, will become the executive vice president and chief solutions officer for Ownum, according to a report by Crain’s.
He’s tasked with leading the company’s national expansion efforts as it looks to hire software engineers, product managers, scrum masters, business process engineers, data analyst, UX and UI designers, cloud engineers and QA engineers.
The fintech company is developing blockchain solutions to store, record and retrieve government records.
The company is targeting a cluster of bureaucratic bottlenecks including digitizing vehicle titles across the country by using blockchain-based solutions. Future applications could include license plates, as well as birth and death certificates.
“The company has almost completed developing a blockchain-based solution for recording car titles, according to Moreno. Cole said his job will involve developing a strategy to work with county and state Bureau of Motor Vehicles officials to implement the technology.”
Moreno has been on the front lines of turning Cleveland into “Blockland,” leveraging Cleveland’s civic and corporate leaders to attract blockchain developers and entrepreneurs.
He launched the city’s inaugural Blockchain Solutions Conference in December, an educational event that featured speakers Jerry Cuomo, vice president of IBM Blockchain Technologies; Jason Kelley, general manager of IBM Blockchain Solutions; Joseph Lubin, founder of ConsenSys and co-founder of Ethereum; Larry Sanger, co-founder of Wikipedia; and Alex Tapscott, author and co-founder of the Blockchain Research Institute.
Blockland Solutions Conference 2 will be the focus of an upcoming meeting on January 28.
Moreno hopes tech giant IBM, a major blockchain player, will expand its operations in Cleveland.
One of many IBM-powered blockchain initiatives, the Dubai Blockchain Platform, was announced last October. It’s the first government-endorsed blockchain platform as-a-service in the United Arab Emirates.
Delivered through an IBM cloud environment and designed to digitize government processes and citizen services, Dubai’s comprehensive platform exemplifies Ownum’s goals of making governments more efficient, transparent and cost-effective.
Moreno, who is also an investor in Cleveland-based Votem, a startup focused on using blockchain tech to power online voting through mobile devices, says Ownum will pitch its solutions to governments in Ohio, Florida and four other states.
Crypto-friendly Ohio launched OhioCrypto.com late last year. The portal allows companies to pay certain business taxes using Bitcoin.