From its mysterious origin story to its ties to black market dealings, Bitcoin has been closely watched since its emergence in 2009. But the digital currency hasn’t captured attention for controversial reasons alone. Many believe the underlying technology that powers bitcoin transactions, a system known as blockchain, has the potential to upend how Wall Street does business.
At its most basic level, a blockchain is a new means of structuring and distributing data. It allows financial companies and other institutions to create a digital ledger guarded by cryptography that can be shared among participants in a transaction. This makes it so that authorized participants can alter the ledger without awaiting approval from a central authority, often resulting in faster and more secure transactions that can save financial institutions time and money.
Bitcoin itself is in the throes of a tumultuous year, as the community is divided by deep philosophical differences. But some observers say blockchain will thrive regardless of bitcoin’s fate. More than 100 executives from major Wall Street firms like Citigroup, Visa, and Fidelity recently gathered at Nasdaq’s New York offices to experiment with blockchain. The