The blockchain. Let's pretend you understand it. You know it's the thing that Bitcoin uses and it's some kind of ledger. But what's fascinating is it's a public ledger that's very difficult to falsify. So it's great for accountability of all kinds, not just cryptocurrency.
Here are five business uses for blockchain:
Initial coin offerings are huge, in some part because they're not yet regulated but also because they take away the friction in funding a company. In fact, ICOs are quite different from stock in being more flexible about what they enable the holder to do.
SEE: Quick glossary: Blockchain (Tech Pro Research)
Anybody who's driven past a port knows the name Maersk. The gargantuan shipping company and some partners like Dutch and US customs has been testing using the blockchain to track cargo. This can reduce tampering with labels and speed up shipping times.
You've got a friend in the diamond business: Cryptography! A company called Everledger has been recording tons of identifying features to make it clear which stones are owned by whom. Possibly not as impressive as the sheaf of certificates that accompany an engagement ring, but very efficient for other purposes.
SEE: The executive's guide to implementing blockchain technology (TechRepublic)
Wal-Mart has been using the blockchain to track pork. Well pigs. Lots of other farmers have been trying out the idea to reduce food spoilage and fight disease.
A public ledger that records things that can't be faked sounds like a lawyer's dream. However, a blockchain can create a smart contract that executes itself, no lawyer needed. Sounds like a lawyer's nightmare. Unleash the lobbyists!
And the hits just keep on coming. Any business that finds it hard to fight fraud but desperately needs accurate record-keeping is going to be toying with blockchains to see if it can help. I can publicly verify that!
- Blockchain: The smart person's guide (TechRepublic)
- 4 industries that are making the best use of blockchain technology (TechRepublic)
- Microsoft facilitates automated transactions with blockchain and the Coco Framework (TechRepublic)
- Executive's guide to implementing blockchain technology (ZDNet)
- Yes, Blockchain could reverse the course of civilization and upend the world's most powerful companies (ZDNet)
Tom is an award-winning independent tech podcaster and host of regular tech news and information shows. Tom hosts Sword and Laser, a science fiction and fantasy podcast, and book club with Veronica Belmont. He also hosts Daily Tech News Show, covering the most important tech issues of the day with the smartest minds in technology.