When Bitcoins were first introduced in 2009, they were the first cyber currency. I labeled them a Soft Trend — one whose future was looking good but not certain. At the same time, I identified cyber currency as a growing Hard Trend that would continue; accordingly, I suggested there would be many more cyber currencies in the near future. Both have held true, as the future success of Bitcoins, although promising, is not a future fact, and there are more than 100 cyber currencies to date.
As it happens, the enabling technology with which Bitcoin transactions are handled has gained far more traction. The rapidly evolving technology of blockchains represents a Hard Trend that will continue to grow. It holds enormous promise for game changing disruption across any number of industries and fields.
For those who may be unfamiliar with the term, blockchains are a system of decentralized transaction records. By decentralized, I mean that a blockchain can be used to create a transaction without any input from any sort of controlling entity.
In one of its most widely known applications, blockchains can send and receive digital forms of currency, such as Bitcoins. But the system can’t be accessed by just anyone. Users can send digital payments only to other participants in the same blockchain network. That means only those who use the blockchain can establish and enforce rules and approved procedures — a powerful form of security.
But there’s another level of safety. Instead of a controlling entity determining whether a particular transaction is legitimate, it’s up to the entire network to make that call. That means if someone tries to tamper with a ledger entry, the rest of the network will disagree on the integrity of that particular transaction and will not incorporate it into the larger blockchain.