I have been watching with great interest the ever-expanding list of retail stores and other institutions that accept Bitcoin or other CryptoCurrencies as payment. Just this week, for instance, Ohio announced that starting Monday it will accept digital currencies as payment for all types of taxes. One of my friends, who is the top crypto-currency trader in the U.S., has bought numerous vehicles and five houses using Bitcoin and other “alt-coins”. And thousands of websites now accept CryptoCurrencies as payment for all their good and services.
But this article is not so much about the CryptoCurrencies themselves but about the “Blockchain” that allows digital money to exist. I’m planning to write a more detailed article on the fascinating subject, but for now, I will offer a short explanation and an expansive prediction. The Blockchain is basically an unhackable database that exits on thousands of computers all over the world. It tracks transactions in the various CryptoCurrencies in a way that is immutable. Once transactions are recorded and verified, it is impossible to change them. The record of such transactions exists forever. If the transaction was a purchase, let’s say of one Bitcoin, and that coin is later sold, the original transaction is not changed. Instead, the new transaction is recorded and verified – and it also becomes immutable.
Now for my prediction. Blockchain technology is going to change the way all business in the world is done. In fact, it has already started. “Smart Contracts” (the subject of another upcoming article) are making it easier for businesses to do transactions (especially internationally) without having to make use of an escrow agent. International money transactions can be done in seconds rather than the days it takes for international wires – and at far less cost. Banks now transfer money to one another using a respected digital currency.
Most important, data can be stored in the Blockchain safely and efficiently. Medical institutions are starting to store patient data in this way. Which brings us to the Turkey and the Blockchain.
Cargill, Incorporated is an American privately held global corporation based in Minnetonka, Minnesota. It provides agricultural products to millions. It was founded 153 years ago in 1865, and is the largest privately held corporation in the United States in terms of revenue.
You may have heard TV newscasters warn viewers for the last several weeks to avoid Romaine lettuce due to salmonella contamination. That’s the dark lettuce that is the main component of a great Caesar salad. There were also warnings that undercooked turkeys could contain salmonella.
For this Thanksgiving season, Cargill did a pilot project in which it tracked 200,000 turkeys from “farm to table.” (They didn’t actually track them to your house – just to the store where you bought your Thanksgiving feast.)
Why would they want to do something like that? Remember the mad cow disease scare? It wasn’t about schizophrenic bovines. Mad cow was a very serious disease. It was important – but very difficult – to track the affected meat back to its source to ensure that no more meat was shipped from those slaughterhouses. If Cargill’s system had been in place, it would have been quick and easy to do so.
Whether you ever invest in or trade CryptoCurrencies, these coins and the Blockchain they are built on will change your life in many ways over the next few years. Get ready for the future!