Oracle's Craig Nel
Blockchain is one of the most widely discussed and hyped technologies in recent times. Most industries, if not all, should be either excited or worried, or both, about its potential. Use cases, proof-of-concepts, and fully fledged businesses based on blockchain technology are emerging at an increasing pace.

When a new technology hits the market, misconceptions and myths often pop up alongside it. This is certainly the case with blockchain.

Oracle recently held a round-table discussion on blockchain.

Content producer Sthembiso Sithole attended the event and spoke to Craig Nel, mobile and cognitive experience leader at Oracle Middle East, Africa and Turkey.

What is blockchain?

Blockchain is an innovative technology that can drive innovation, accelerate business, and reduce risk and costs associated with common business processes.

It builds a growing list of unalterable records (called blocks) that are linked together to form a chain and securely distributed among participants. Blockchain minimises the cost and delays of using third-party intermediaries for financial transactions.

Why should you care?

Blockchain has the potential to fundamentally transform global businesses across multiple industries. It enables a trusted business network to transact directly over a peer-to-peer network, without the delays and cost of third parties, while still ensuring the validity and integrity of the transactions. It offers a ready-to-go, enterprise-grade solution that enables businesses to increase business velocity, extend enterprise boundaries and reduce operational costs.

Is Bitcoin blockchain?

Bitcoin is not blockchain. It is just one of several technological components and constructs used to manage cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.

Bitcoin works because it leverages blockchain to manage values and transactions. Blockchain is the underlying technology but it has many other potential uses.

Is blockchain about managing money?

While blockchain can (and is) being used to manage financial transactions, that’s just one of many applications of the technology. A blockchain can track any type of transaction from the movement of goods through a supply chain to the completion of courses a student needs to earn a degree. Without blockchain, transactions - whether they are financial or supply chain related - require data flows in and out of central information systems. With blockchain, ownership is easier to follow and any associated party can confirm event activity.

What are some of the real-world-use cases for blockchain?

Blockchain is contributing to many promising advances in areas of food safety and authenticity. The technology has the potential to provide traceability as part of a digitised food system. It can also take us beyond traceability to transparency, where we have a complete and interconnected view of the supply chain.

Blockchain has many benefits, the most compelling of which is how it can address the challenges related to trust. It is difficult to establish trust quickly in business partnerships. It inspires confidence, and confidence ultimately translates into significant investment across all industries.

@SthembisoMedia