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.

1. Stocks

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)

2. Shipping

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.

3. Diamonds

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: How blockchain will disrupt business (ZDNet special report) | Download the report as a PDF (TechRepublic)

4. Livestock

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.

5. Law

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!

Image: iStock/thitivong