Blockchains are bigger than the Internet was back in the day

Blockchains are much more than obscure things that have something to do with cryptocurrencies. In the future, many business operations will be built around blockchains. Furthermore, they enable building trust in completely new ways, with machines.

What should you know about blockchains at the moment? We interviewed Juha Viitala, one of the authors of a new book on blockchains.

A blockchain is a decentralised database solution that enables storing data between all computers in a network such that no single party can change the data retrospectively. Furthermore, as each machine holds an identical copy of the information, it will not disappear when one machine crashes. Because of this, the blockchain is considered to be a very safe and reliable way of storing data.

“The blockchain will soon become a much bigger thing than the Internet once was and, in the long run, it will change things much more deeply than the Internet has so far”, envisions Juha Viitala, who has recently established Bering & Company, a block chain business.

Blockchains are often associated with cryptocurrencies, and not without reason, as the financial sector is one potential utiliser of the technology. For example, Bitcoin is already now using a blockchain as a reliable way of transferring, storing and exchanging value. In Finland, OP and Nordea, among others, are looking into the utilisation of the technology.

Another potential application is the real estate sector.

“The sale of apartments and houses involves many parties, and completing a transaction requires many steps, such as obtaining signatures and holding meetings. A blockchain could be used for digitalising the entire process, thereby making it easier and more cost-effective for anyone involved”, Viitala describes.

The adoption of blockchains has been quite slow in Finland, but it is clear that the technology will revolutionise many sectors. Right now, the progress is being hindered by legislation and regulation and various players’ challenges with understanding the big picture. However, we have recently seen good discussions around the subject, and an increasing number of pilots and other blockchain projects are being carried out.

Juha Viitala’s three things that everyone should know about blockchains right now:
1.    Blockchains are more than just one technology – they represent a big systemic change.
2.    Blockchains are much more than a virtual currency – this is just one application that utilises the technology for transferring and storing value.
3.    In the long run, blockchains will change things much more deeply than the Internet has so far.