Blockchain has been in the news a lot recently. This is unsurprising as blockchain is the technology that underpins the digital currency, Bitcoin – itself rarely far from the news.
And blockchain is big news. Financial institutions believe it could represent a new dawn for financial transactions. The government has been urged to adopt the technology. Many experts are touting blockchain as ‘the next big thing’.
So, what is blockchain technology? After all, for many people Bitcoin is something that they may have read a lot about, but still haven’t actually had any real experience of. Well, the future of blockchain extends far beyond Bitcoin. Indeed, regardless of what happens with Bitcoin – its price has plunged recently, leaving many to question the value of the cryptocurrency in the long term – blockchain technology looks set to have a bright and rosy future.
What is blockchain?
The reason why blockchain is the next big thing and is virtually guaranteed longevity is the fact that it is, essentially, a method of recording data. It serves as a ‘digital ledger’, but it is a ledger that isn’t stored in just one place. The ledger is distributed across, potentially thousands of, computers – which, of course, can be all over the world.
The digital ledger can be of virtually anything too. From transactions to contracts or agreements – in fact, any data that needs to be recorded independently and verified can be included.
Blockchain is much, much more than a channel or structure for raising Bitcoin money.
How are businesses utilising the blockchain concept?
There is a danger that the Bitcoin/cryptocurrency/financial side of things when it comes to blockchain overshadows the really important story here – the technology itself. There is much more to blockchain than perhaps first meets the eye. Being capable of moving data quickly and securely, the technology has the ability to save businesses considerable time as every movement, change and aspect of any transaction can be recorded as it happens.
The potential of the technology is already being explored in sectors far removed from the cryptocurrency sphere. Major global shipping company, Maersk, are using blockchain technology to track cargo as it moves from port to port. One of the largest multinational retailers, Walmart, is using blockchain to track the entire journey of its products until they reach the store shelves. Indeed, it is the retail sector where blockchain technology is likely to be used the most in the coming years.
What does the future hold for blockchain?
Nothing is perfect, and blockchain technology is far from being perfect. It has glitches, but hiccups aside, the technology has the potential to greatly improve business operations and external transactions for companies in a wide variety of sectors.
As blockchain technology essentially makes many intermediaries obsolete, it is likely to receive some resistance, but the advantages clearly outweigh the disadvantages. Therefore, it is likely that blockchain technology will be adopted more widely across many sectors.