Some people who are close to Blockchain technology think it promises to potentially eliminate counterfeit drugs, help third world farmers get full value for their produce, eradicate corruption and reduce macro-economic volatility.
That's a lot of promises.
Today however, it's early days for a slightly geeky financial technology that hasn't really taken root. This might be about to change.
Sweden's central bank announced it is looking at issuing digital currency to their citizens.
[So, why should I care?]
If you're hazy on the details, it's well worth catching the recent TED talk from Bettina Warburgwhich explains how it works, and why it's so important.
You can think of Blockchain as a record of everything that happens to a product or service. Every transaction that affects the product is logged on everyone's common, shared database. Every time value is added to a product in the value chain - it's irrefutably captured in its identity, every time it is sold - the new owner's details are captured and shared.
[Really, why should I care?!]
Well, when you buy online today, you have to trust that the person will send you the product you've paid for, and that the product will be what you want it to be. That's why we like to see lots of of 5 star ratings on eBay, and buy from reputable brands... But these can be cheated, and maybe your high store rating on eBay or Amazon doesn't work when you're selling your Fridge on gumtree.
Blockchain eliminates the need for trust in system.
With Blockchain, you release the money when the product is delivered, you can see each component in the product is exactly as expected -- and from the seller's perspective, they only release the product when proof of funds is received - so they can be sure they are selling to a reputable person, too. 100% transparency. No problems with fluctuating interest rates, maybe there is no need for banks either. Seamless. Simply, Ubiquitous.
[Okay, Really - who cares?]
Once you understand that cash is a trust based system - you start to see its weaknesses.
With Blockchain you can be sure that your new table isn't made from illegally deforested trees, that your medicines are official and within their sell by date, that dolphins didn't die for your tuna, and your diamonds are not from a conflict. The certainty eliminates the incentive for bad behaviour, and means anyone anywhere can sell to everyone everywhere and be 100% confident - for the first time, ever.
Blockchain can potentially do for trade what the internet did for the spread of information. Now, while there are a few crypto-currencies out there, none have received the kind of mass adoption that can change society.
Sweden central bank's announcement that it is working out how to issue digital currency to the populace could be transformational. If this pans out, 2106 could be the year that fundamentally changes way the world works for a much, much deeper reason than Mr Trump or Mr Farage could have imagined.
—Sweden’s central bank on Wednesday opened a discussion about whether to introduce a digital currency to supplement cash as people here increasingly cut their use of coins and notes.