If you haven’t heard about blockchain yet, you soon will.

A short description of blockchain is that it’s a way to record transactions in a secure, encrypted manner that doesn’t require a central owner.

Why does this matter?

In most transactions, there’s someone who is transferring ownership of something to someone else. This could be real estate, money, a contract, the list goes forever. When that transaction takes place, the transaction is generally recorded by a third party, such as a bank, a government agency or some other trusted source.

Blockchain is a technology that does not require third party involvement.

This means that, for example, I can transfer something of value to someone else without anyone else being involved.

Most people have heard of Bitcoin (a form of “crypto currency”), which uses blockchain technology. How this works is that I buy Bitcoin using real money. Through the use of blockchain technology, I can use my Bitcoin to buy and sell things without involving a bank, credit card company or any other financial institution. All I have to do is find someone else who is willing to accept Bitcoin as payment.

Companies such as Overstock.com, Expedia.com, Dish Network, Intuit and Microsoft accept Bitcoin for some purchases.

Bitcoin and blockchain made big news a few years ago as an enabler of illegal transactions such as for drugs and contraband. This is because the transactions could be secure, but did not go through any bank where the illegal transaction could be flagged and investigated by authorities.

Luckily, blockchain has a myriad of legitimate uses.

Some of the primary reasons why blockchain technology will likely be a part of your life is its secure nature and ability to accurately record ownership.

Applications of blockchain technology include land titles, credit card companies, banks, contracts and agreements and even helping people without bank accounts buy and sell goods and services.

Wherever there are transactions that need to be securely recorded is the possibility to apply blockchain technology.

The real key will be to make blockchain technology transparent to the user, so that they only know they’re making a secure transaction.

Mark Mathias is a 35+ year information technology executive and a resident of Westport, Connecticut. He can be contacted at livingwithtechnology@mathias.org.