Anti-establishment wave to help push blockchain into real world in 2017
LONDON/NEW YORK, Jan 10 (Reuters) - A wave of anti-establishment sentiment sweeping the Western world is likely to help push blockchain - the technology that gave birth to the renegade digital currency bitcoin - out of cyberspace and into the real world in 2017.
Blockchain, which allows the web-based currency to function, has attracted some big backers who have risen to prominence partly because of their rejection of traditional power structures - like bitcoin itself.
Now they are looking at a wide range of new uses for the technology, with those outside the realm of finance expected to grow most.
For example, Italy's biggest opposition group, the 5-Star Movement, wants blockchain to be used in streamlining public services. In the United States, President-elect Donald Trump has a number of enthusiasts for the technology in his inner circle.
Experts caution that blockchain still needs several years of experimentation and development, much like the early days of the internet, and say some projects will never work.
Nevertheless, in an ironic departure from blockchain's libertarian origins, the very establishment that early supporters hoped it would displace is also jumping on the bandwagon.
Many of the world's biggest banks and corporations are trying to harness the technology to make the likes of transacting cross-border payments, issuing debt and recording health data more efficient. Even Britain's Conservative government is keen to get in on the act.
Blockchain allows for transactions and data transfers to be completed in seconds through a peer-to-peer computer network, with no need for a third party. It has therefore attracted those who distrust established authority, such as the central banks that issue traditional currencies.
This is particularly the case in its first implementation, bitcoin, which outperformed all conventional currencies in 2016. Iceland's Pirate Party, the country's joint second-biggest party, wants bitcoin accepted as legal tender.
GRAPHIC - Banking on blockchain
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