Maybe you know all there is to know about blockchain technology. 

Maybe you know nothing. 

Either way, in the near future blockchain could change how you do business in numerous ways, from energy use to booking a hotel. 

“Right now, if people think about blockchain at all they probably only think of its connection to cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and DigiByte,” says Andi Simon, a corporate anthropologist and author of On the Brink: A Fresh Lens to Take Your Business to New Heights.

“But the blockchain technology is really what people should be excited about.” 

Blockchain was introduced in 2009 to serve as a database that could track and keep secure large volumes of transactions in the cryptocurrency world.  Once data is recorded, it can’t be changed without the approval of most network participants.

“This process supposedly creates a fraud-proof system and essentially authenticates the information that’s exchanged,” Simon says. 

That’s why it has potential to be used in numerous ways, she says, such as:

• Government services and economic development. Any communities wondering how they can take advantage of blockchain in a big way could look to Zug, Switzerland, for advice. The city of 30,000 has become a leader in accepting cryptocurrency and encouraging blockchain startups to call Zug home, Simon says. Two years ago, Zug became the first place in the world to accept cryptocurrencies for some public services, and residents can get blockchain-based digital identities.

• Energy. Solar energy and blockchain aren’t the strange bedfellows you might imagine. Simon points to Brooklyn, NY, where a project called Brooklyn Microgrid created a peer-to-peer energy-trading system that is built on blockchain. Essentially, neighbors purchase power generated by their neighbors’ solar panels, allowing them to bypass utilities companies. Blockchain technology validates and records the transactions.

• Tourism. The tourism industry could be disrupted in a number of ways as blockchain begins to allow travelers to take greater control over all their travel planning. As an example, Simon says Dubai, which seeks to become an entirely blockchain city, is making moves to become a leader in blockchain tourism. Dubai Tourism recently announced a blockchain-enabled marketplace to connect potential customers directly to hotels and tourism operators.

• Financial Services. Banks and financial institutions could become superfluous as more people begin to use blockchain technology to send digital assets securely. “From the customer’s standpoint, that could mean an end to excessive interest rates and middleman fees as people make transactions directly,” Simon says. “People might not need banks for such things as making loans or providing credit.”

“Business owners don’t need to worry about incorporating blockchain platforms right away,” she says. “But they do need to be aware of what’s happening out there so they are prepared for how technology could change their businesses in the future.”