Beyond cryptocurrency, the new ledger technology offers huge benefits for health care, crowdfunding and the cloud.

“Blockchain” is undeniably one of the hottest words on the internet. As proof, turn to Google Trends to see its traction over time. Couple that with the articles being published almost daily about this technology, the LinkedIn groups discussing it, the commentators crawling out of the woodwork — including me!

Many  people, however, still  associate blockchain only with Bitcoin. And while Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are certainly exciting, blockchain, which is these currencies’ underlying technology, has far more applications across multiple industries — from a comprehensive sport ecosystem to wedding contracts.

To understand these applications, start with exactly what Blockchain technology is. According to a Wall Street Journal explainer blog, “A blockchain is a data structure that makes it possible to create a digital ledger of transactions and share it among a distributed network of computers.”

Blockchain allows each participant on the network to work with the ledger securely without the need for a central authority, the blog explained. Each time a participant adds a “block” of data, participants leverage technology to verify the transaction, and then it’s added to the “chain.”

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