On January 24, 2018, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) issued its “Draft NIST Interagency Report 8202 Blockchain Technology Overview” which it announced as NIST’s “Report on Blockchain Technology Aims to Go Beyond the Hype.” The press release announcing the issuance of the report starts by stating “Beguiling, baffling or both—that’s blockchain. Aiming to clarify the subject for the benefit of companies and other organizations,…NIST has released a straightforward introduction to blockchain, which underpins Bitcoin and other digital currencies…The NIST report’s authors hope it will be useful to businesses that want to make clear-eyed decisions about whether blockchain would be an asset to their products.

As one who has studied blockchain technology and attended conferences trying to explain it in layman’s terms (you can understand it if you are a math major), blockchain is not an easy subject, but has been predicted to change the worlds of currency and health care in the near future, so it is important for all of us to understand it. This report attempts to explain the concept of blockchain technology, how it is used in electronic currency, and discusses its broader applications.

One of the authors of the report noted that “Blockchain is a powerful paradigm for business. People should use it—if it’s appropriate.” He further stated that “A company’s IT managers need to be able to say, we understand this, and then be able to argue whether or not the company needs to use it based on that clear understanding. Some people are saying you should use it everywhere for everything. We wrote with the perspective that you shouldn’t use it if it’s not necessary.”

If you don’t understand blockchain and how it works, take a look at this NIST publication—it is a good start. It helps those of us who aren’t math majors understand blockchain in layman’s terms.