Category: Innovation, Technology

Demystifying Blockchain


digital-abstractDo you understand “blockchain” well enough to explain it to a lay person?

Sure, we’ve all read news articles and participated in conferences and webinars where blockchain, the technology best known for supporting bitcoin, has been discussed. Chances are you know blockchain is an open source software tool heralded as a resource for transforming the financial services industry.

Perhaps your knowledge is a little deeper, and you are aware that firms like Microsoft and State Street Corporation are exploring how to leverage this distributed ledger technology, first introduced in 2008, to securely meet their data management needs. And maybe you’ve even heard of some of the advantages blockchain; for example, according to State Street’s Explainer Series, blockchain is secure, efficient, and can be open or closed. 

But, unless you are a tech professional, are you confident that you could you REALLY explain blockchain?

I couldn’t.

So, I went to the web to find a reputable and up-to-date source to demystify blockchain and help me understand all the excitement about it.

A quick Google search for “blockchain” and “mutual funds” revealed more than 75,000 entries in fewer than 30 seconds.

As I scrolled through the results, my eyes pounced on an article in the Wall Street Journal‘s CIO Journal series published in February 2016 entitled, “What is Blockchain?” The article leads with an illustration by Oliver Wyman describing the function of a distributed ledger.

binary-cubesPerfect. Understanding the function that blockchain fulfills is an important first step in demystifying the technology.

Skimming the subheadings in the Wall Street Journal article led me to the second paragraph, which reads, “A blockchain is a data structure that makes it possible to create…”

From there I devoured the article written by staff reporter Steven Norton.

The simplicity of the piece helped me understand the power and potential of blockchain.

Do I understand what it means for the mutual fund industry? Not completely. But I am interested to learn more. So I plan to talk with our Chief Information Officer Don Foberg, and Business Solutions Analyst Phil Blake to learn how Boston Financial is leading and learning from the industry discussion of blockchain. And we’ll report the findings here.

Have a mutual fund industry topic you’d like to understand better? Let us know in the comments section and we’ll do our best to help out.

Gretchen Kinder

Gretchen Kinder

Gretchen Kinder works for Boston Financial's Sales Support and Corporate Marketing team where she works on sales support and strategy documents. Gretchen joined Boston Financial in 2014 after nearly two decades of professional experience in Boston’s nonprofit and municipal sectors. A Jane-of-all-trades, Gretchen earned her MSW/MPH from Boston University in 1997 and has held positions as a community organizer, program manager, fundraiser, event planner, strategic planning consultant, adult educator, philanthropic community manager, public information officer and grant writer/manager. She has worked in the fields of chronic disease management, community service learning, health professions education, philanthropic planning and wealth management, urban planning, public and community health, PK-12 public education, early literacy, mental health and dental insurance.


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