Blockchain has started to overtake Bitcoin itself as the most valuable commodity within the cryptocurrency industry, with huge amounts of investment funding backing new financial industry startups that seek to make use of blockchain for a variety of industry specific applications. However, not all of the ongoing research is directed at the financial industry, and the recent announcement by a research group created by Imperial College London that they will be looking at potential blockchain applications within a wider range of industries shows the broader potential of the technology, and possibly has much greater importance long term.
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Blockchain has seen a surge of interest over the last 18 months, attracting huge investment funding for startups focused on the technology. To date, the majority of these startups have been directing their innovation towards ways of using blockchain within the financial industry, but now new ideas and new market sectors are beginning to see interest in using the disruptive effects of distributed ledgers.
A recent announcement by the Centre for Cryptocurrency Research and Engineering, a research division created by Imperial College London last year, has announced they are looking at ways of utilizing the underlying technology of cryptocurrency, blockchain, within a wide range of industries and markets. Although the reveal of significant ongoing funding for such research is itself a sign of the growing acceptance of the utility of blockchain, there are several interesting things within the announcement that show this in a more direct way.
The startups that have been backed by huge funding money within the financial industry are mostly working on systems based upon private distributed ledgers, which for the application involved of course makes complete sense, indeed, increased security is one of the key benefits for the technology. However, other applications may not require such closed systems and like Bitcoin itself, operate on public, permission-less distributed ledgers.
That there is still ongoing research within public ledgers is good for the cryptocurrency industry itself, while there is undoubtedly benefit within the finance industry for proprietary closed systems based upon the technology, the real advances that have come from blockchain have so far been driven by the public nature of the idea, and the benefits and opportunities that come from that should not be forgotten.
The research intends to look at varying industries including healthcare, energy and insurance, as well as potential integration with Internet of Things technology to provide added security. While the huge funding financial startups are attracting within the digital currency industry is grabbing the headlines, this is perhaps the more likely arena where we will see the innovation that drives the blockchain technology forward.