Delaware, whose business-friendly laws have lured more than half the country's publicly traded corporations and more than 60% of the Fortune 500 to incorporate in the state, is now vying to become a hub for blockchain technology.

Gov. Jack Markell is set to announce an initiative Tuesday to encourage businesses incorporated in the First State to develop distributed ledger and smart contract technologies through a suite of programs.

"We are laying the groundwork for a more modern, secure and transparent business environment for years to come," he said in a press release, which did not spell out what incentives the state would offer Delaware corporations to use these technologies.

The announcement comes as banks are cautiously investigating the potential of the blockchain — a decentralized electronic recordkeeping system that was created for the digital currency bitcoin but is now believed to have a variety of other applications. One such potential application is smart contracts — agreements in which some or all of the terms are automatically enforced by software, reducing (theoretically) the need to resort to courts.

Delaware is working with Symbiont, a startup focused on blockchain-powered smart contracts, and law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman's blockchain practice to develop the initiative's technical aspects and legal infrastructure, respectively.

The state historically has maintained a leadership position in incorporation services, making it "an ideal proving ground for smart contracts," Symbiont chief executive Mark Smith said in a press release.