In 2017, roughly 2,000 people attended The Consensus Conference. Conference organizers expected more than 4,000 attendees at this year's conference in New York City, but ultimately ran out of capacity at 8,500 people. Clearly the cryptocurrency industry is gaining a measure of popularity with the mainstream. What’s more, the focus isn’t just about cryptocurrency and investing — and the Lambos and private islands. The real story here is blockchain, the underlying technology that has the ability to make smart contracts and immutable records possible, especially in a trustless environment.

Before you ask yourself what cryptocurrency blockchains have to do with you, understand you don’t need to work in the technology industry to grasp the concepts and you don’t need to be a major cryptocurrency investor to be affected by these emerging technologies. Practical uses for the blockchain are starting to materialize in a big way in terms of enterprise and institutional interests.

Enterprise Is Coming to Blockchain

The same week Consensus took place, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft made blockchain announcements. IBM representatives spoke at Consensus about the importance of collaboration with Hyperledger, a blockchain framework started by Linux that has grown the potential applications of blockchain technology through collaborative open governance development. Circle, a highly valuable cryptocurrency trading platform partially backed by Goldman Sachs was there to announce plans for a fiat-backed cryptocurrency.

Forward thinking platforms such as Streamr, which works toward decentralization of applications and digital infrastructure, were very compelling. (Watch this video with its head of marketing.) Tangem was there to showcase its drive to bring theoretical digital currencies into the real world through smart banknotes, thus giving them a more tangible feel in order to make cryptocurrency more real and physical for people who still stumble against the digital.

Related Article: What's Next for Blockchain?

Learning Opportunities

Other Emerging Blockchain Applications Showcased at Consensus

  • Lition is a utility-backed, blockchain-based clean energy trading platform.
  • Salt makes it possible to borrow against cryptocurrency assets so as not to jeopardize valuable capital.
  • Cprop is modernizing real estate by bringing land title and real estate portals to the blockchain, reducing opportunities for error and homebuyer stress.
  • Socratescoin is looking to revolutionize education through the blockchain and virtual reality.
  • Loyalcoin is working to monetize loyalty programs with one standard cryptocurrency.
  • Opinion Economy was there to talk about the practicalities of adding consumer behavior to the blockchain, especially in light of the GDPR.

Related Article: What Is Blockchain and What Does it Do?

Why Should You Care About Blockchain?

Don Tapscott kicked off the conference with a brief keynote address and later hosted a fireside chat with FedEx CEO Frederick W. Smith and CIO Robert B. Carter. During the discussion they brought up a crucial point: tech movers need to be nimble to survive the next era.

Where is blockchain in terms of global adoption? To put it in perspective, we are back in 1994 right before most folks had seen the world wide web. We are one small step away from everyone being ushered into this new era via free AOL CDs, changing everything about how we interacted with the world and with each other.

The mood at the show differed for many, however. Depending on your focus, a mix of optimism and pessimism filled the air. Many things were happening at Consensus as well as within the broader #BlockchainWeekNYC, with focuses ranging from regulatory environments to ICOs and everything in between. But one thing was clear — the focus of Consensus was on solving problems and moving industries and society into the 21st century.

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