At the time of writing, blockchain is probably at peak hype. Blockchain-based currencies, startup projects and more recently Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs – cryptocurrency fundraising) are attracting billions of dollars. In November 2016, the World Economic Forum met to discuss blockchain governance models. Many public- and private-sector organisations are experimenting with using blockchain, including the Swedish Land Registry, Visa and Nasdaq; and of course many technology and advisory companies (including IBM and Samsung) are providing products and services to help them. Estonia, in particular, has been very bullish in exploring a wide variety of blockchain-centric approaches to government services.

Meanwhile the marketplace in general seems to be at peak confusion, asking: What exactly is blockchain? Is it the same as bitcoin? What is Ethereum? And so on. The ‘blockchain explaining’ sub-industry is also maxing out at the moment, with hundreds of primers, perspectives, courses and books available.

Despite the hype, the opportunity is genuinely very exciting. The challenge is that blockchain is both rather complex to understand from a technical point of view, and rather abstract from a business point of view – it could be used for a wide variety of things.