I've been a big fan of Bitcoin for a while and the potential for a true digital currency, but lately it's been having problems. Some prominent voices in the Bitcoin world actually say it's dead and that got me a little worried. I'm no longer bullish on the Bitcoin currency itself partly because of Hearn's departure from the project, but mostly because first innovators usually don't survive. I believe something else will take Bitcoin's place one day as the defacto digital currency.
That said, I'm actually quite bullish on Blockchain technology. It's the system that makes Bitcoin work.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about blockchain is that there's no central authority or single source of the database. Which means it exists on every system that's associated with it. Yes, every system has its own complete copy of the blockchain. As new blocks are added, they're also received by every system - for the ultimate distributed database. If you lose your copy, no problem. By rejoining the blockchain network you get a fresh new copy of the entire blockchain. (h/t @ischwartz)
You can't have Bitcoin without a Blockchain but you can have a Blockchain without a Bitcoin. In fact you can create a Blockchain for all kinds of things, especially financial transactions.
When you talk about blockchain in the context of Bitcoin, the connection to Big Data seems a little tenuous. What if, instead of Bitcoin, the blockchain was a ledger for other financial transactions? Or business contracts? Or stock trades? The financial services industry is starting to take a serious look at blockchain technology. Citi, NASDAQ, and Visa recently made significant investments in Chain.com, a Bitcoin blockchain service provider. Oliver Bussmann, CIO of UBS, says that blockchain technology could "pare transaction processing time from days to minutes." via Web 2.0 Journal
I think it might be time invest in Blockchain Startups.