Owasson making waves at KU through research, development of blockchain technology | News

An Owasso resident is making waves at the University of Kansas.

Daniel Jones, president and co-founder of the KU Blockchain Institute, is combining his talents with advanced technology to benefit school students and staff.

Earlier this year, Ripple, a Silicon Valley financial technology company, awarded a $2 million grant to KU as part of the University Blockchain Research Initiative. The program focuses on accelerating academic research, technical development and innovation in blockchain, cryptocurrency and digital payments at top universities.

Ripple is led by Brad Garlinghouse, class of ‘94, who serves as CEO of the San Francisco-based cryptocurrency and digital-payment processing firm.

One of the programs benefiting from the grant is the KU Blockchain Institute, a student-led organization that focuses on advancing KU’s standing in the fast-developing field of blockchain. The group is open to students from all disciplines, including engineering, business, economics, mathematics, science, healthcare and technology.

Jones, a senior at KU studying supply chain management and finance, became passionate about blockchain technology through his international supply chain experience, which led him to cofound the organization in Aug. 2018.

“I was able to network with seasoned professionals who seemed adamant that blockchain technology would be a huge disruption for their industry,” Jones says. “I remember thinking, ‘If these executives are so worried about this technology, maybe I should check it out.’ Incumbent firms may see blockchain as a major disruption, but the KU Blockchain Institute sees blockchain as a serious opportunity for student entrepreneurs to challenge the status quo.”

Jones, who recently partnered with industry professionals to host a conference about blockchain, said the concept is a verifiable data structure that uses applied mathematics and cryptography to create trust or traceability through a transfer of value.

“The transfer of value takes place through a transaction around a digital asset. A digital asset can represent any piece of physical property or store of value,” Jones said. “Using distributed ledger technology, blockchain creates a direct peer-to-peer exchange system for the transfer of value. Blockchain is to value what the internet is to information.”

Since its launch last year, the KU Blockchain Institute has hosted three large conferences, including an Oct. 2019 conference on cybersecurity. Speakers from FedEx, Lockheed Martin, the University of Arkansas and IBM attended.