Blockchain is one of the biggest buzzwords in tech.
That’s in large part because of its most buzzworthy application, cryptocurrency. The rise in value of Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies has rocketed blockchain into the public consciousness. As time has passed and economies around the world have yet to do business in Dogecoin, that initial hype could well be cooling.
But cryptocurrency is not the sole application of blockchain, as companies with vested interests in the technology will point out.
“The sensationalism that media has brought to blockchain is beginning to burn off,” said Deborah Barta, SVP of innovation and startup engagement at Mastercard Labs. “The people who have been focused on blockchain from the beginning — not as a savior but as a technology — are now focused on the practical applications of the technology.”
Mastercard may not be a company many people associate with blockchain, but it serves as a solid example of companies investing in applications of blockchain outside of the crypto scene. It has quietly staked a claim as a blockchain R&D leader, filing the third-most blockchain patents in the world (Alibaba and IBM lead the way). While it’s not uncommon for companies to follow fads, Mastercard has been investing in the myriad applications of the technology since before the first Bitcoin billionaire was minted.
“We built our own blockchain about five or six years ago,” said Barta. “We needed it to mirror the tenants of our payments network in terms of resilience, security, scale and throughput, and that simply wasn’t available at the time with open-source blockchains.”
Labs, the company’s R&D outfit, was launched in 2010 to help accelerate innovation through internal programs and partnerships with enterprise companies and startups alike. In the nine years since its launch, Labs has grown to 11 offices worldwide and its headquarters,…