Chapter 1. Blockchain in the Economy

“So…what is blockchain?”

The first challenge faced by the business technology leader is just having a good answer to this question. We propose a simple definition: blockchain is the Internet of Money.

Suppose that our current internet is the Internet of Information. This information takes many forms: email, websites, databases, user ratings, music and media, and so on. Google lets you search information. Facebook lets you share information. Uber, eBay, and Airbnb are services powered by information—about drivers, sellers, and property owners, respectively.

Now let’s imagine what an Internet of Money might look like. You could use it to send cash to your friends or make payments to your landlord. You could receive a paycheck and then securely store that value online, like a bank. You’d never need to touch physical money.

Then, let’s expand the definition of “money” to mean “anything of value.” Let’s imagine that we can use this Internet of Money to send and receive frequent flier miles. We can save and redeem Starbucks rewards points. We can buy and sell stocks and bonds.

If our current internet provides the “rails” that allow information to travel freely, an Internet of Money will provide the “rails” that allow value to travel freely.

But there’s more. The Internet of Information let us create new forms of information, like aggregated reader reviews (Amazon) or crowdsourced hashtags (Twitter). Similarly, the Internet of Money will let us ...

Get State of Blockchain now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.