Blockchain was invented to serve as a public transaction ledger for the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. Now, blockchain technology is used for so much more. There are, in fact, those who believe blockchain technology could in time be more significant than the Internet, with applications not only in banking but energy, health care, real estate and government services.
Such companies as IBM, Microsoft, Walmart, JPMorgan Chase, Nasdaq, Foxconn and Visa are pursuing blockchain technology; so too is Maersk, the shipping giant. Venture capitalists have also invested some $1.5 billion into it. There is some question about whether such businesses have a full understanding of how blockchain technology might be of benefit to them, but there is great optimism about its future — and ample reason for other companies to get on board.
William Mougayar, a venture capitalist at Virtual Capital Ventures, advisor to such blockchain organizations such as the Ethereum Foundation and author of the book “Opening Digital Markets,” told Forbes that blockchain is at present where the Internet was in 1993-94 — poised to explode.
In his mind, blockchain can be viewed through technical, business and legal prisms, in that the technology provides not only a ledger but an exchange network — an alternative to traditional currency and banking, as it has been called elsewhere.
The legal and regulatory ramifications are perhaps the most fascinating thing of all. No middleman is needed to validate transactions — as is the case, Mougayar notes, with online retailers like eBay and Etsy — and no need for an entity like Facebook or Google to access your personal information. That adds a layer of security, and anonymity, to all transactions.
Mougayar adds that in essence, blockchain is “on top” of the net — that it is separate but increasingly equal with the world wide web. Some of blockchain’s specific applications at present are in the areas of smart contracts (defined by American Banker as “self-automated computer programs that can carry out the terms of any contract”), cloud storage, supply-chain communications, payroll delivery and even electronic voting.
There is more to come, to be sure, as blockchain evolves and the full scope of its possibilities become clearer.
This was originally published on Data Driven Investor on August 1, 2018.