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Barron's: Blockchain Is Starting to Show Real Promise Amid the Hype

Updated: Oct 24, 2018

The blockchain revolution is here.

The technology long associated with Bitcoin is now being used to make businesses as varied as trade finance, video gaming, travel insurance, and diamond mining more efficient and more secure.

The blockchain revolution is also far, far down the road. If it ever comes.

Partnerships and initiatives featuring blockchain seem to be trumpeted every day. Projects that actually solve real-world problems are much rarer. The research firm Gartner surveyed 3,160 chief information officers this year and found that only 1% had put blockchain to work.

Take the Australian mining giant BHP Billiton (ticker: BHP), which announced in 2016 that it would use blockchain to track its supply chain, including the movement of rock and fluid samples. But after the company tested it in a pilot project, a BHP executive said this month that the technology “hasn’t reached the point of maturity where we think it applies to us.”

As the technology reaches what Gartner calls the “peak of inflated expectations,” executives and investors need to learn to assess the hype versus the real potential.

Businesses that aren’t already considering how to use blockchain to restructure their operations, particularly in finance and logistics, risk their software—and even their business models—becoming outdated.

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