One of the biggest tech stories of 2017 was the explosion of public awareness about cryptocurrencies, fueled by rocketing prices for two of the leading cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin and Ethereum. Many pixels continue to be spent speculating about whether these prices are a bubble, whether their rise heralds the disruption of traditional state-backed currencies or whether the real driver of demand is the need to provide liquidity for black markets.
But the frenzy around Bitcoin obscures the fact that blockchain, the technology underpinning cryptocurrencies, is a much more general-purpose technology, one that holds the potential to revolutionize far more than just currency markets. The revolutionary potential of blockchain lies in its ability to securely inventory, track, subdivide and transfer wealth over the Internet. In a nutshell, what the Internet was to social media — the core enabling technology — blockchain is to the possibility of a true sharing economy.