When you mention Bitcoin, first thing that comes to people’s minds are that it’s an anonymous digital currency (it’s actually far from anonymous but that’s a discussion for another post). So it’s primarily associated with “digital money” for majority of people.
But it’s much more than that. The underlying technology that Bitcoin is built upon is called Blockchain. Blockchain in simple terms is a decentralized platform that keeps track of all the transactions ever executed on the platform. It’s transparent and it’s decentralized, in other words no central government or banking institution controls it. There are major “nodes” (or servers) that keep copy of all the transactions, and there are many other computers that sync to those nodes.
Various types of “apps” can be built on top of Blockchain, it just so happens that the first “app” is a digital money app called Bitcoin. This was intentional by the founder(s) of the Bitcoin (Satoshi Nakamoto, a person or a group of people) to include the money part within the first release of the Blockchain, so that it serves as a reward for the miners (people who solve complex algorithms to generate Bitcoin) and node maintainers to earn monetary value for their contribution to the blockchain. In simplistic terms, bitcoin to blockchain is like gmail to internet. One is a platform and a protocol, and another is an app that is built on that platform/protocol.
Types of Apps being built around Blockchain Technology
Lots of interesting startups are being developed around Blockchain. Below are some of them. I’m not going to cover the ordinary ones like Bitcoin Exchange Platforms, Bitcoin Wallets, Bitcoin Payment Processing Gateways, Bitcoin Debit Cards etc. Rather will be mentioning the more interesting ones that are leveraging on the Blockchain Technology and not necessarily the currency Bitcoin itself;
- Bitwage - bitcoin based payroll system for companies. Especially useful in paying international employees or freelancer workers.
- Storj.io - Think of it as the truly decentralized version of Dropbox, where your files’ chunks will be stored in thousands of other members’ PCs.
- Filecoin.io – Data storage network and electronic currency based on Bitcoin.
- Bithost.io – Normal hosting with a twist, just pay with bitcoin and no need to provide bank details.