Understanding the difference between Blockchain and Cryptocurrency

It is common for there to be confusion when new technology comes out. Blockchain and cryptocurrency are two of the latest examples. Blockchain and cryptocurrency are very much inter-related. However, they are not the same nor interchangeable.



The blockchain technology and methods are the foundation that supports a number of different applications including cryptocurrency. There are, however, a vast number of enterprise applications and use-cases that leverage blockchain but have nothing to do with cryptocurrency. These applications often leverage one or both of the two core features of blockchain: 1) shared trust and/or 2) smart contracts.


Cryptocurrency, on the other hand, is a logical currency that leverages the underpinnings that blockchain brings. Today, enterprises are building applications that leverage blockchain in very novel ways. The vast majority of these applications have nothing to do with cryptocurrency.


One of the downsides to new technology is when it becomes the solution looking for a problem. Many of the ‘blockchain experiments’ happening in enterprises today resemble this statement. There are good use-cases for blockchain-based applications in the enterprise. However, many of the experiments happening today would be well-served with just a relational database.

That is not to say that experimenting with blockchain is bad. In fact, it is a good to learn about the features and limitations of the technology in order to find the right use-cases. The best enterprise use-cases happening today are solving problems that were not solvable using past methods.

Tim Crawford is ranked as one of the Top 100 Most Influential Chief Information Technology Officers (#4), Top 100 Most Social CIOs (#7), Top 20 People Most Retweeted by IT Leaders (#5) and Top 100 Cloud Experts and Influencers. Tim is a strategic CIO & advisor that works with large global enterprise organizations across a number of industries including financial services, healthcare, major airlines and high-tech. Tim’s work differentiates and catapults organizations in transformative ways through the use of technology as a strategic lever. Tim takes a provocative, but pragmatic approach to the intersection of business and technology. Tim is an internationally renowned CIO thought leader including Digital Transformation, Cloud Computing, Data Analytics and Internet of Things (IoT). Tim has served as CIO and other senior IT roles with global organizations such as Konica Minolta/ All Covered, Stanford University, Knight-Ridder, Philips Electronics and National Semiconductor. Tim is also the host of the CIO In The Know (CIOitk) podcast. CIOitk is a weekly podcast that interviews CIOs on the top issues facing CIOs today. Tim holds an MBA in International Business with Honors from Golden Gate University Ageno School of Business and a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Information Systems from Golden Gate University.

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