If you follow the news, you’re probably familiar with Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency that has been making headlines recently with its volatile fluctuations in value. While the future of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin remains a matter of debate, the technology that supports it offers many innovative, alternative uses.
This technology, Blockchain, has been called “a new type of internet” – a distributed database (or ledger) that is hosted across millions of computers simultaneously. Blockchain Revolution authors Don and Alex Tapscott describe it as “an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.” Because information held on blockchain is not stored in any single location, it is always publicly accessible and easy to verify, yet also theoretically immune to corruption from any single entity.
As this technology emerges from financial market applications, it offers possibilities beyond recording financial transactions as public record. Innovators are now focusing on the development of distributed ledger applications in fields as diverse as healthcare, distribution and logistics, and alternative energy.