In 2017, nothing was hotter than cryptocurrencies. Over a 12-month span, the aggregate value of digital currencies soared by almost $600 billion, which works out to more than 3,300% on a percentage basis.

At the heart of it all was the emergence of blockchain technology. Blockchain technology is officially the digital, distributed, and decentralized ledger responsible for recording transactions without the need for a financial intermediary.

But in plainer English, it represents a new way of transmitting money without using traditional banking networks, as well as a means of recording data in an immutable (unchanging) manner. This latter point is important, as it demonstrates that blockchain has applications that extend beyond just the financial services industry.

Second, it removes banks from the equation, at least when talking about its currency-based applications. Cutting banks out means not having to pay them a third-party fee, which can reduce overall transaction costs.

Third, and sticking with its currency applications, blockchain also offers the ability to expedite the validation and settlement of transactions. Today’s banking networks can take up to five business days to validate and settle cross-border transactions. Read more from fool.com…

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