This article first appeared in the print edition of Legaltech News, featured in the February’s Corporate Counsel and The American Lawyer magazines, as “Blockchain 101: Class Now in Session.”

The end of 2017 signals a full explosion of blockchain into the public eye, most notably its use within cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin, the open-source distributed ledger payment system through which the technology first made headlines in 2009, saw a massive value spike this fall as bitcoin futures prepped for a December 2017 launch. And while cryptocurrencies have long been exciting for the niche communities that develop and trade in them, public appreciation for the digital assets seems to have surged, too. “Bitcoin” was the second most searched global news topic on Google in 2017; “how to buy Bitcoin” was the third most searched question.

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