Blockchain Technology: What Is It Good for?

Scott Ruoti, Ben Kaiser, Arkady Yerukhimovich, Jeremy Clark, and Robert Cunningham

Bitcoin's success has led to significant interest in its underlying components, particularly blockchain technology. Over 10 years after Bitcoin's initial release, the community still suffers from a lack of clarity regarding what properties defines blockchain technology, its relationship to similar technologies, and which of its proposed use-cases are tenable and which are little more than hype. In this paper we answer four common questions regarding blockchain technology: (1) what exactly is blockchain technology, (2) what capabilities does it provide, and (3) what are good applications for blockchain technology, and (4) how does it relate to other distributed technologies (e.g., distributed databases). We accomplish this goal by using grounded theory (a structured approach to gathering and analyzing qualitative data) to thoroughly analyze a large corpus of literature on blockchain technology. This method enables us to answer the above questions while limiting researcher bias, separating thought leadership from peddled hype and identifying open research questions related to blockchain technology. The audience for this paper is broad as it aims to help researchers in a variety of areas come to a better understanding of blockchain technology and identify whether it may be of use in their own research.

Scott Ruoti, Ben Kaiser, Arkady Yerukhimovich, Jeremy Clark, and Robert Cunningham. 2019. Blockchain technology: what is it good for? In ACM Queue, Vol. 17, No. 5, pages 60–87. ACM.