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The blockchain has received a huge amount of press over the past few years, and with good reason. It’s not hyperbole to say this digital tool has the potential to transform financial transactions around the world. Much of the attention so far has been focused on how blockchain technology stands to revolutionize the financial services industry. But the innovations don’t end there. Many companies are working on blockchain technology along their supply chain, to control sourcing together with their business partners.

First, let’s step back and address the questions of what the blockchain is and what makes this technology so appealing for facilitating financial transactions. The blockchain is a type of database that records digital events between parties. It acts, essentially, like a sequential spreadsheet of transactions that gets updated on a global network of computers, in a way that is auditable. This global network is a distributed ledger in which data is encrypted as it’s being written so that the transactions it contains can be safely verified by legions of other computers across the network.

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