Blockchains are one of the most important technologies to emerge in recent years, with many experts believing they will change our world in the next two decades as much as the internet has over the last two. You can read this executive guide as a PDF (free registration required). Although it is early in its development, firms pursuing blockchain technology include IBM, Microsoft, Walmart, JPMorgan Chase, Nasdaq, Foxconn, Visa, and shipping giant Maersk. Venture capitalists have so far poured $1.5 billion into the space, with storied firms such as Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, and Khosla Ventures making bets on startups. The applications for blockchain technology seem endless.
A decade after the financial crisis, the near-collapse of the economic system is fading from memory. But, while the banking industry has largely recovered from a financial perspective, there are storm clouds on the horizon. While capitalization has improved significantly, revenue growth has become more challenging with the strategy of cutting costs having run its course. At the same time, banks and credit unions are playing catch up from a technology perspective at a time when consumer expectations are increasing exponentially. Making the banking business even more difficult, smaller fintech and large techfin companies are developing solutions that use insight and digital technology to improve the customer experience across product lines.
There's a reason that blockchain startups are hot. Blockchain is the brainchild of Satoshi Nakamoto, who may or may not be real and may or may not be one person or a group of people. All that is known is that Nakamoto is also the brains behind Bitcoin. Blockchain is in fact the technology behind Bitcoin but the two are totally separate. Blockchain provides the means to record and store Bitcoin transactions, but the blockchain technology has many uses beyond Bitcoin.
The technology most likely to change the next decade of business is not the social web, big data, the cloud, robotics, or even artificial intelligence. Blockchain technology is complex, but the idea is simple. At its most basic, blockchain is a vast, global distributed ledger or database running on millions of devices and open to anyone, where not just information but anything of value – money, titles, deeds, music, art, scientific discoveries, intellectual property, and even votes – can be moved and stored securely and privately. On the blockchain, trust is established, not by powerful intermediaries like banks, governments and technology companies, but through mass collaboration and clever code. Blockchains ensure integrity and trust between strangers.