Sandbox City: And you thought bitcoin was just for gambling

18 November, 2018

We admit that bitcoin and blockchain technology fascinate the heck out of us here at We are always on the lookout for exciting new developments in the cryptocurrency space.

So imagine our pleasure in learning of a brand-new city planned for the Nevada desert of the U.S. Southwest. The project proves beyond all doubt that crypto is good for more than just bitcoin gambling.

The city, dubbed 'Sandbox City', is the brainchild of former lawyer and current CEO of Blockchains LLC Jeffrey Berns. After having made a fortune in Ethereum, Berns now wants to turn around and use his wealth to further blockchain development. He believes one of the best ways to do so is to build a living, working city with blockchain technology at its IT core. He has already invested some USD $300 million to make it happen.

The many uses of blockchain

Those familiar with cryptocurrency are also familiar with the concept of blockchain. Indeed, bitcoin and all the other cryptocurrencies out there wouldn't exist if it were not for this simple but effective technology. Blockchain is a technology that uses an encrypted ledger to record and store transactions in a secure, decentralized way. But here's the real beauty of blockchain: it is not limited only to financial transactions.

A blockchain ledger works seamlessly with any sort of data transaction. The same technology that makes it useful for Bitcoin and Litecoin is also useful for other applications requiring the exchange of data. Maybe you run a warehouse. If so, you could use a blockchain ledger to manage all the inventory coming in and going out.

Stamp collectors can use blockchain to manage their collections. Educational institutions can use it to manage student records. Grocery stores, clothing chains, and every other retail operation can theoretically use blockchain to manage everything from inventory to finances.

The Sandbox City concept

Once you understand the potential of blockchain it is a little easier to envision what Berns has in store for Sandbox City. He intends the city to be a truly smart city powered by a blockchain infrastructure that handles all interactions between the city's residents, businesses, and government entities. The city will obviously have to be planned in great detail in order to make it all happen.

Sandbox City will include housing for thousands of people alongside plenty of commercial space. Berns hopes to include an arena for eSports and a studio where video games, movies, and music can all be developed. Having said that, blockchain will not be the only cutting-edge technology supporting what could end up being the first truly digital city. Berns also plans to utilize 3D printing, artificial intelligence, and nanotechnology to make the dream a reality.

So what's the point? It's not just to prove that it can be done. Rather, Berns wants Sandbox City to be a hotbed for future blockchain development. He also sees the city as a way for him to give back to the cryptocurrency community for all the benefits it has afforded him.

In theory, Sandbox City will be on the cutting-edge of developing the future of blockchain. The city will simultaneously be a blockchain testing ground and fishbowl the rest of the world will watch closely. Those who live there will be blockchain's human guinea pigs, learning to live in a city that could eventually become the world's longest running, real-time science experiment.

Sandbox City's infrastructure

We have already mentioned a blockchain infrastructure that will power Sandbox City. But in order for that to happen, there has to be some underlying hardware too. Berns has accounted for that, purchasing two decommissioned bunkers from the U.S. military. The locations of those bunkers have not been disclosed, but they will be used to house Sandbox City's digital storage equipment.

Of course, no enterprise of this nature would be as secure as possible without overseas storage as well. So Berns purchased two additional storage facilities in Europe. One is in Sweden while the other is under a mountain in Switzerland. Having four digital storage facilities allows for plenty of hardware and redundancy.

It is unclear whether Sandbox City will be built around a single cryptocurrency. If so, it would be reasonable for Berns to choose Ethereum - given that he is intimately familiar with it. But more likely, all sorts of cryptocurrencies will be flowing in and out of Sandbox City.

Ethereum will undoubtedly be at the core thanks to its blockchain. Unlike bitcoin's blockchain, Ethereum's was built from the ground up to facilitate more than just cryptocurrency transactions. In fact, Ethereum was not built primarily as a crypto platform. It was built as a technology platform for developing a full range of software solutions extending far beyond financial transactions.

Don't forget the banking

Building a city around blockchain should make it pretty easy to conduct business within the city limits. But what about outside? The rest of the world does not run on Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash. That's not a problem for Berns and Sandbox City. Berns went so far as to purchase a bank capable of supporting city finances.

Berns made the decision to purchase the bank after squaring off against the IRS in its fight with Coinbase. In that case, which was settled late last year (2017), the IRS demanded records on all Coinbase users under the assumption that most U.S. citizens making money from crypto have not been reporting their profits.

Coinbase ultimately prevailed - at least in terms of protecting all but about 3% of its users. What otherwise would have been the disclosure of nearly 500,000 customer records eventually involved just 14,000 users.

Berns has no intention of tangling with the IRS again. His bank will handle all cryptocurrency and fiat transactions facilitated within the Sandbox City environment so as to guarantee proper tax reporting. He promises that his bank will be the friendliest possible solution for the cryptocurrency environment. It is assumed that Sandbox City businesses and residents will hold dual accounts with the financial institution, one for fiat and the other for crypto.

A pretty big dream

What Berns has in store sounds more fantasy than reality. Indeed, it is a very big dream. Will the dream ever become reality? That is up to Berns and the partners he will eventually have to reach out to. He has already bought more than 67,000 acres of land and signed a memorandum of understanding with NV Energy, the public utility that provides power in Nevada.

If Berns' dream of Sandbox City seems too sensational for you, consider another dreamer who purchased 30,000 acres of swamp land in central Florida back in the 1960s. What began as a vision for the world's largest theme park supported by a private airport has grown to become a resort area consisting of four theme parks, more than three dozen hotels, shopping and entertainment districts, and more.

Disney's Walt Disney World resort now hosts tens of millions of visitors every year. It has its own infrastructure that includes a power plant, renewable energy system, public works department, and fire department. The property maintains a fleet of more than 300 buses that support a public transit system that also includes boats, cars, and a monorail.

Here's the point: the people closest to Walt Disney thought he was crazy when he proposed the Florida Project. He might have been crazy, but his company made it happen. If Walt Disney World resort can arise from the swamps of Central Florida, there is no reason Sandbox City cannot rise from the floor of the Nevada desert. Berns has already purchased more than twice the land Disney bought, and he's also got a good head start on infrastructure.

A practical purpose for Sandbox City

The only thing Berns has working against him is the practical purpose of Sandbox City. The purpose behind Disney's dream was to build a much larger version of what he had already accomplished in California. There was a built-in purpose behind it: creating a family entertainment complex that people outside of California could enjoy.

What is the practical purpose for Sandbox City? If it is just to prove that blockchain infrastructure is doable for cities, how much appeal will it have to people who aren't blockchain enthusiasts? That is the real question. Hopefully Berns has thought about it.

Disney also had a dream for the city of the future. It turned out to be financially inviable, so his planned city became the EPCOT Park at Walt Disney World resort instead. Years after Disney's death, the company once again tried its hand at municipal development by building a Florida city called Celebration. That didn't work, either. The city was eventually sold to private developers after the Disney company discovered it was too expensive to keep.

Sandbox City may prove to be a wonderful idea supported by a technology that promises to change just about everything in the digital arena. But Berns has a big job ahead of him. If he succeeds, bitcoin gambling will be nothing compared to all of the technology driving a truly smart city in the middle of the Nevada desert.