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The "blockchain," an emerging form of distributed database first implemented by the digital currency Bitcoin, is gaining wider acceptance and interest in a variety of industries. Many firms in the financial sector already use blockchain technology to handle tasks like payment authorization and processing transactions. Now companies in other sectors like consumer packaged goods, healthcare and media are investigating blockchain initiatives of their own.
Blockchains are decentralized, autonomously managed databases that support decentralized activity, such as currency trading across thousands of independent parties with no central authority like a bank in charge. A key feature is that each record in the database is essentially unchangeable. That makes blockchaining useful for a variety of commercial transactions and records, not just financial data.
Based on the results of a December 2016 survey of US executives by Deloitte, blockchaining is likely to become considerably more widespread in the future. Among those surveyed who said they had a broad knowledge of blockchaining, more than half of those in the consumer products/manufacturing sector and in the life sciences and healthcare sector said they currently implement or plan to implement blockchain technology. Just under half the respondents in the technology, media and telecom sectors said they currently, or planned to, implement blockchaining.
Deloitte is not the first to note the rising interest among marketers in blockchain technologies. In fact, a separate survey by The Economist Intelligence Unit, which asked worldwide executives what technology trends would have the biggest impact by 2020, found that 10% of respondents mentioned blockchain technologies.
Growing interest in blockchain applications may be one reason companies like Microsoft are racing to create commercial products and services using blockchain concepts. Nevertheless, some executives remain wary of the technology due to its peer-to-peer, distributed nature, fearing they may lose control of key operations. As more successful blockchain proof-of-concept programs come to market, some of this hesitance may start to disappear.
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