Nowadays, people speak more and more often and in various fields about blockchain. But what exactly is blockchain? What lies behind this name which literally means “chain of blocks”?

Initially, the term was associated with Bitcoin, the first and best-known cryptocurrency. In truth, the characteristics and capabilities of blockchain – such as decentralization of data, security, immutability – can be implemented in the most disparate fields, from agrifood to logistics, from healthcare to public administration, not to mention power supply.Blockchain is a foundational technology, which might impact our future in disruptive ways. Blockchain replaces the traditional centralized logic underlying many of our processes, transactions, and relationships with the principles of decentralization and participation. It is therefore not merely a technology, but a new way of interpreting and executing processes and of drawing together the players within a supply chain, whatever it may be.

Blockchain is a distributed ledger managed and shared among all actors (nodes or peers) of a business process (network), such as an industrial chain. The information is distributed over all nodes and transactions are approved through a consensus mechanism distributed among nodes. Finally, data is encrypted and immutable: Once validated by all nodes and written in the ledger, they can no longer be modified or deleted.

It has the potential to redefine the foundation of our economic and social systems. The impact will be huge, but it will take years for blockchain to penetrate economic and social infrastructures. The adoption process will be gradual, as innovation along with technological and institutional changes give it impetus.