E-tail giant Overstock has invested in a Belgium-based blockchain startup.
The seed investment in SettleMint, the amount of which was not disclosed, was made by Medici Ventures, a venture arm of Overstock that is focused on its blockchain-based trading platform initiative. In April, Overstock invested $4m in Caribbean digital currency exchange Bitt, and the firm has stakes in other companies like PeerNova and Identity Mind as part of its crypto-exchange project.
According to the e-tailer, the investment in SettleMint is aimed, in part, at shoring up the voting capabilities for its tø platform. The startup recently unveiled a new voting tool geared toward this year's US presidential election.
Patrick Byrne, CEO of Overstock, said in a statement:
“Two years ago we identified six functions that will be fundamental to this new age, one of which was voting. Among SettleMint’s several great attractions to Medici Ventures’ capital has been their early work on blockchain voting. The immutability and universal accessibility of the blockchain make it the perfect technology for achieving higher confidence in the democratic process, for everyone.”
The proposed use of the technology to enable shareholder voting has gained steam in the past year, leading organizations like the EU Parliament's research outfit to propose using bitcoin as a basis for cataloging votes. Major proxy voting vendors like Broadridge have also begun working in this year.
The investment represents another step in the company’s ramp up to blockchain-based stock trading, as Overstock is planning to begin conducting an offering of its own stock via blockchain next month.
Earlier this week, announced a new partnership with Connecticut-based investment bank Source Capital Group, which will serve as dealer-manager for the offering. Overstock has also been investing heavily in the project, booking a $3m pretax loss in the third quarter of last year on its Medici business line.
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