In case you need a quick refresher, blockchains are made up of chronological records of transactions. The information that’s stored in these ledgers is saved in verifiable chunks, which are known as blocks. Blocks are chained together to form blockchains.

Blockchain is an emergent technology that may be as transformative as the internet, according to many predictions. But this innovative new technology has a surprising link to the days of medieval treasuries.

Blockchain is a distributed ledger that uses cryptography — mathematical code — to chain together records of transactions in a tamper-resistant and transparent manner. It is being used as an alternative or replacement for national currencies, contracts, internet device authentication and more.

This form of record-keeping, though technologically novel in the digital era, is not so new after all. Historian M.T. Clanchy tells us that it existed in the medieval era, during the transition from oral to written forms of memorialization. At that time, symbolic objects played a crucial role in providing evidence of transactions, rights and entitlements.

A few months ago, at the SAP SuccessFactors SuccessConnect in Las Vegas, keynote speaker Penny Stoker said, "Blockchain is essentially a technology that validates transactions." This sticks, as suddenly all sorts of new and interesting applications of what blockchain could do for entrepreneurs.

At a high level, courtesy of IBM, blockchain is defined as "shared, immutable ledger for recording a history of transactions." Even more abstracted, it is a secure, peer-to-peer platform for verifying digital events. Effectively, industries can leverage technology core to blockchain to store and manage information, access, and trust across a wide network. And rather than having a single player control the "keys," blockchain is decentralized, meaning no one individual can manipulate or override the data. This is especially important to sectors like finance and government, which are prone to fraud and system abuse.

What can Blockchain do for your business?