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Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: CES 2018: The Big Trends for Business

CES 2018 likely to feature a heavy dose of blockchain, cryptocurrency

Rest assured digital money, blockchain, and cryptocurrency will be key themes at CES 2018 as tech vendors aim to ride shotgun with the latest buzzword.

CES 2018 will be best known for its gadgets, electronics, and applications for the Internet of Things (IoT), but you can expect blockchain technology as well as cryptocurrency to be a major headliner.

Cryptocurrencies such as Ripple and Bitcoin are showing signs of being a full-blown bubble. Grandmothers were asking about cryptocurrency over the holiday break. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange's move to enable trading in Bitcoin futures only made cryptocurrency more mainstream.

The underlying technology of these cryptocurrencies is blockchain, which will have a big enterprise impact for smart contracts, supply chain and security. A blockchain is a single version of the truth made possible by an immutable and secure time-stamped public ledger, copies of which are held by multiple parties.

Blockchain shifts trust in business from an institution or entity to software and makes illiquid assets tradeable, curbs fraud, and enables devices to make transactions.

Executive's guide to implementing blockchain technology | Download the Blockchain Guide | The risky business of bitcoin: High-profile cryptocurrency catastrophes of 2017 | IT leader's guide to the blockchain (TechProResearch) | Video: What blockchain means to the enterprise (TechRepublic) | Why the true value of blockchain may be 20 years away

At CES 2018, it's a safe bet that blockchain will be used as a term as much as ones like artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, and smart devices connected to the IoT. Simply put, blockchain technology may be everywhere.

Indeed, CES 2018 will feature a day devoted to digital payments, currency, and blockchain as well as all the areas the technology will touch.

Judging by the agenda at The Digital Money Forum, blockchain will touch everything from customer relations to augmented reality to artificial intelligence and robotics. Given the blockchain and cryptocurrency hype, rest assured that vendors looking to pitch hardware will mumble about digital monetary systems. After all, the promise of blockchain is that machines will be able to lend money and conduct transactions with no humans required.

Blockchain technology is also likely to be mentioned often by companies expected to benefit from developments such as bitcoin mining. These vendors would include Nvidia, AMD, and cloud providers offering blockchain as a service.

Naturally, crytocurrency and the "game of coins" such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Stellar will be a big topic at The Digital Money Forum, but don't take your eye off the ball. Finance is just the first wave of blockchain's impact. It's possible CES 2018 will highlight a few blockchain uses coming in the future.

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