How blockchain is being used in enterprise

Blockchain technology could be used to support online voting, cloud computing, land registries and more

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Since Bitcoin launched in 2009, it has grabbed headlines around the globe. But more recently, it's the underlying technology Bitcoin is built upon which has garnered the most attention. Namely, blockchain.

An October 2017 survey found that 24 percent of businesses are looking into potential applications of the technology, while 16 percent of companies had already purchased blockchain-enabled tools. 

Here we take a look at some of the most innovative uses of blockchain technology in enterprise - from freight and oil and gas, to food safety, online voting and more.

Watch this video first for a more detailed breakdown of exactly how blockchain technology works and what some of its applications are. 

Blockchain technology provides a way to store information (financial transactions in Bitcoin's case) on a distributed network of computers, rather than on a centralised server. This increases security because it means that a 'ledger' of information is shared between many different servers, rather than just a private body, such as a bank. 

See also: what is Blockchain?

The public ledger supported by blockchain technology can only be updated with the consent of the majority of participating bodies and, once entered, information can never be erased, meaning it provides a verifiable record of 'digital events'. This vastly increases the transparency of transactions recorded by blockchain systems, because they are all publicly recorded. 

Blockchain tech can also decrease risk, because no single authority has control, meaning that if there is a glitch and one of the nodes in the network goes down, the system is still functional.

As a result, a number of banks have started exploring blockchain's potential to make payments faster, cheaper and more transparent.

Some major vendors are helping to increase the viability of blockchain as an important business tool. IBM and Microsoft are both dedicating serious resources towards blockchain tech, with IBM spearheading the Hyperledger umbrella project of open source blockchain.

Read next: From supply chain to equity: real-world uses of the blockchain today

The potential uses for blockchain technology are numerous. It could be applied to almost any form of record-keeping, agreement, contract or register. For example, the UK government has started exploring how it could use blockchain in the provision of public services.

Here are just a few of the ways blockchain is currently being used, as well as some possibilities for the future of the tech.