Blockchain Can Grow More Than Just Money

Issue 03-27-17   |   Reviewer:   Michael S. Raisinghani, Ph.D.


Bitcoin guarantees that each virtual dollar is unique, so the sender can’t spend the same cash more than once by using blockchain, an online ledger that’s distributed on computers worldwide. Ethereum, a new industry group, has a ledger that can store fully functioning computer programs called smart contracts. Unlike bitcoin, blockchain is not really about currency. Its advocates think it could be a universally accessible machine for running businesses.

Blockchain's inventor, Vitalik Buterin, released his software in 2015, not long after dropping out of the University of Waterloo in Canada. Less than two years later, JPMorgan, BP, Microsoft, International Business Machines, and ING are among a handful of companies experimenting with his technology. On the business side, corporations have to be convinced that they won’t be giving away trade secrets through their use of a ledger shared with other companies. At the same time, they need to keep the technology open enough so that anyone can put their ideas into the same Ethereum ecosystem. 

In 2016, hackers stole $60 million worth of ether, the digital currency linked to Ethereum. Ethereum is still a long way from success in either its public or private forms.

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