As the internet has changed the way we communicate, the emergence of blockchain technology has the potential to change the way we transact.

If you’re under 35, chances are you have no recollection of going out to the mailbox to retrieve a letter. Handwritten, folded over, stuffed, sealed, addressed, stamped, and delivered to your house. You probably have only faint memories of the unmistakable ping in response to pressing the keys and dialing a number to call a friend from your landline.

It is highly doubtful you remember using the rotary dial.

While there was no way to predict it back in 1972 when the first email was sent, nothing has changed the way we communicate more significantly than the internet. Sure, it took three decades to reach mainstream status, but internet-enabled communications now dominate the way we educate, inform, chat, and share.

Back Off, Hacks

And while the internet as a platform is wonderful for broadcasting content in seconds to remote corners around the world, its centralized nature hamstrings transactional dealings. Housing massive databases of sensitive information that enable transactions turns out to be an attractive target for hackers with nefarious intent (who knew?!?).

With eyes on addressing the limits of internet-based transactions, blockchain was developed.

In technical terms, it is what is called a distributed ledger. In common talk, it is a way for two people or entities to come together, make and record a transaction, and not have to bother with going through any third-party, or accessing a centralized data storage warehouse.

If even the “common talk” explanation doesn’t make a lot of sense to you right now, it’s okay.

Blockchain is really still in its infancy. But it is revolutionary. Blockchain is positioned and poised to change the way we facilitate transactions—not just in cyberspace but everywhere—much the way the dawn of the internet and email changed the way we communicate and share information.

Disruption Junction: Blockchain’s Function

It is not a stretch to say that blockchain will be as big a disruptor to transaction-based businesses like banks, hospitals, insurers, government agencies, and universities, as the internet was to information-based businesses like telephone companies, mailing houses, the post office, and more.

So, you’re likely thinking, “Thanks for the intro, but what has blockchain got to do with me?”

It’s simple: The more you know now, the more strategically you can grow with the technology, the easier you can navigate the wave of disruption, and the more quickly you can identify and capitalize on opportunities in what promises to be an expansive, profitable new marketspace.