It was introduced with Bitcoin, and is its core technology. Think of it as a very robust database. What is different about it is that it literally transformed peer to peer network technology and it is combined with cryptography which democratizes the data. This allows parties to conduct financial transactions without knowing each other. In other words, digital information can be distributed but not copied.
Think of an excel spreadsheet that everyone in the world can maintain. It is always moving – totally public and open.
Why should you care?
Blockchain can transform a wide range of industries. Right now, I believe that the most promising area in where the value of assets between parties is particularly awkward (cumbersome, expensive and requires a centralized organization. I’m thinking that international remittances would be the first step, but I believe that it will eventually become used by individuals.
How is it being used now?
Bitcoin uses blockchain to track the ownership of its money.
UNWFP has sent over 10,000 Syrian refuges cryptocurrency based vouchers. Madre is using it to manage authentication, confidentiality, accountability and data sharing in hospitals.
The future – due to its unique infrastructure, it could be used for elections (see FollowMyVote.com), crowdfunding, utilities and more.