Blockchain began its existence as a way for Bitcoin owners to guarantee the veracity of their e-currency transactions. Soon enough, however, companies realized that the technology could enable all sorts of transactions across a wide range of industries, from e-commerce to insurance.
Simply put, a blockchain is a distributed database that maintains a chain of “blocks,” or records with a timestamp and a link to the previous block. At least in theory, a user cannot retroactively alter the data within the block, making blockchains secure by design—and very useful for everything from transaction processing to identity management.
Although the popularity of blockchain has risen in tandem with that of Bitcoin, the number of developers with backend expertise in the technology remains relatively low. Bart Cant, principal for financial services at IT consulting firm Capgemini, told Dice this summer that maybe only 100 people in the world boasted that sort of knowledge.
“We went through the top of the hype cycle a few months ago,” Cant said, referring to blockchain. Demand will be “up for short-term need and will go down again… You will see over-estimation in the short-term and under-estimation in the long term.”
According to a recent article in Yahoo Finance, the hype is on the rise again, driven by the steadily escalating value of Bitcoin throughout 2016. IBM is hiring blockchain experts to help out with its new Watson Financial Services division, and other firms are exploring how to best deploy the technology.
Within Dice’s database, blockchain-related skills seem to attract small but fairly consistent demand among companies posting jobs. There’s also a fairly steady supply of experts in that particular field.
If you’re interested in exploring more, check out MIT’s page on the technology, which features papers and videos (one of the latter below) that break down its inner workings and economics. Then check out the Institute for Blockchain Studies, a nonprofit.