When businesses latch onto a buzzword, it quickly becomes the solution to everything. Not long ago, in the era of “big data,” companies scrambled to add chief data scientists to their ranks. Before that, vendors of all manner touted their innovative social, local, mobile solutions (or SoLoMo, in industry parlance). Lately, corporations have been talking nonstop—on conference panels, in TED Talks, in pitchdecks—about artificial intelligence.
But in this moment, few business trends can compete with the magic of blockchain technology. Blockchains, which use advanced cryptography to store information across networks of computers, could eliminate the need for trusted third parties, like banks, in transactions, legal agreements, and other contracts. The most ardent blockchain-heads believe it has the power to reshape the global financial system, and possibly even the internet as we know it.
Now, as the technology expands from a fringe hacker toy to legitimate business applications, opportunists