Blockchain isn’t a household buzzword, like the cloud or the Internet of Things. It’s not an in-your-face innovation you can see and touch as easily as a smartphone or a package from Amazon. But when it comes to our digital lives—every digital transaction; exchange of value, goods and services; or private data —blockchain is the response to a question we’ve been soliciting since the day break from the web age: How would we be able to by and large trust what happens online?Every year we run a greater amount of our lives—more center elements of our administrations, economies, and social orders—on the web. We do our keeping money on the web. We shop on the web. We sign into applications and administrations that make up our computerized selves and send data forward and backward. Consider blockchain a chronicled texture underneath recording everything that happens precisely as it happens. At that point the chain lines that information into encoded obstructs that can never be changed and scrambles the pieces over an overall system.
Blockchain always has an immutable “ledger” that you can see, verify, and control. At the same time, it has no single point of failure from which records or digital assets can be hacked or tampered with. Because of its distributed-ledger technology, blockchain has applications across every kind of digital record and transaction. And in 2017 we’ll begin to see them explode.
First up are the big banks and tech giants. Big business will always drive innovation, and the rise of blockchain-based smart contracts (read on for more explanation of them) turns blockchain into a middleman to execute all manner of complex business deals, legal agreements, and automated exchanges of data. Companies such as Microsoft and IBM are using their cloud infrastructure to build custom blockchains for customers and experiment with their own use cases. On the academic side, researchers are exploring blockchain applications for projects ranging from digital identity to medical and insurance records.
At the same time, dozens of startups are using the technology for everything from global payments to music sharing, from tracking diamond sales to the legal marijuana industry. That’s why blockchain’s potential is so vast: When it comes to digital assets and transactions, you can put absolutely anything on a blockchain. A host of economic, legal, regulatory, and technological hurdles must be scaled before we see widespread adoption of blockchain technology, but first movers are making incredible strides. Within the next handful of years, large swaths of your digital life may begin to run atop a blockchain foundation—and you may not even realize it.