One of the great mysteries of modern life is the time it still takes for a check to clear. Every other financial transaction is being reduced to the tap of a phone or the press of a key. But checks take days to rumble their way from payee to the originating bank, days of lost interest and presumably fees for the intermediaries passing them around behind the scenes. Transactions and data management are supposed to be slicker these days, and yet time and again all of us run into situations where it’s as though technology never happened, or stopped around 1993.
Now come blockchains, and according to father and son authors Don and Alex Tapscott, we should all be cheering. Blockchains are basically a much better way of managing information. They are distributed ledgers, run on multiple computers all over the world, for recording transactions in a way that is fast, limitless, secure and transparent. There is no central database overseen by a single institution responsible for auditing and recording what goes on. If you and I were to engage in a transaction, it would be executed, settled and recorded on the blockchain and evident for all to see, yet encrypted so as to be villain-proof. “The new platform enables a reconciliation of digital records regarding just about everything in real time,” write the Tapscotts. No more waiting for that check to clear. It would all be done and recorded for eternity before you know it.