In October 2008, the concept of blockchain made its debut in a document published to a cryptography mailing list. Though that whitepaper was titled Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System1, the capabilities of the blockchain technology it described extended far beyond digital currency. In fact, what it set out was a system for electronic transactions that can be applied to almost any scenario that demands irrefutable digital records.
With such broad potential, where did it go from there? The rate of adoption for any emerging technology is linked to how well it is understood and trusted. Ten years on, however, many executives remain uncertain about what blockchain is and how it can improve their business. This isn’t surprising: as an entirely new form of infrastructure and as a new way of digitising assets, it’s not an easy concept to explain.
Nonetheless, when asked about their involvement with blockchain technology, almost a third of respondents in a recent PwC survey said they’re already in the development stage. Pioneered by the financial services industry, blockchain is now being put to work in areas from contract automation to royalty processing, identity management and loyalty programs. There are still many issues to overcome – notably, trust – before blockchain really hits its stride, but there’s no disputing that the technology is here to stay. In the infographic below, we cover the essentials of understanding blockchain technology.