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CNM conference teaches blockchain basics

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Local businesspeople, government officials and more can learn about the benefits of fast-emerging blockchain technology at a conference Saturday at Central New Mexico Community College.

CNM Ingenuity, a nonprofit that manages CNM’s commercial activities, and the New Mexico Blockchain Alliance will host the one-day BlockFiesta to discuss opportunities that blockchain can offer businesses, government agencies and organizations in managing financial transactions and operations online, said Amber Terrasas, chief operating officer at FreeRange, a co-working space and Blockchain Alliance member.

“The blockchain technology is important for many industries, including everything from health care and real estate to government entities,” Terrasas said. “We want to educate everybody about its benefits.”

Blockchain is the foundational platform technology that enables use of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. In essence, it provides a secure online system to share ledgers on all transactions that can’t be changed or corrupted. It facilitates the tracking and exchange of assets, reducing risk and cutting costs for all involved.

Transactions are recorded as locked-in blocks of information that are available for all network users to see. As new transactions occur, they’re added as blocks to the chain, allowing users to track and verify the history and current status of everything related to an asset or interaction.

Beyond Bitcoin, the technology can allow businesses, government and others to securely handle everything from supply chain management to financial contracts in real time online.

CNM, for example, says it became the first community college in the country to issue digital diplomas in December to a small group of graduates. Starting this month, all CNM graduates will now have the opportunity to manage and share their diplomas with employers or others securely from their mobile device through blockchain technology, said CNM Chief Information Officer Feng Hou.

“We have successfully implemented the blockchain solution, and we’re now issuing all CNM graduates blockchain diplomas in addition to paper-form diplomas,” Hou said. “It’s secure, free, readily verifiable and immediately shareable…The technology has become an enabler in many industries to transform business processes and improve customer services.”

CNM is developing courses on blockchain technology, and will soon incorporate training for it into the college’s Deep Dive Coding program, said CNM Ingenuity senior technology adviser Bill Halverson.

“Real estate professionals could learn to access and exchange all deeds on blockchain,” Halverson said. “It would eliminate fraudulent, or counterfeit deeds, because you can’t counterfeit things on blockchain.”

The conference will include speakers from IBM, Sandia National Laboratories, Lipscomb University, CNM Ingenuity, Learning Machine and local businesses that use blockchain like FreeRange, DistrictOx and Pixegon.

BlockFiesta will begin at 8 a.m.  at CNM’s Smith Brasher Hall. Tickets are $49, with lunch included.


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