Blockchain – the technology behind Bitcoin – has potential uses far beyond digital currencies. That’s what Capital Rotarians heard from May 30 guest speaker Dr. Dirk Brown, shown with club member Walker Williams (left in photo). Brown is faculty director of the University of South Carolina’s McNair Institute for Entrepreneurism and Free Enterprise. He has extensive experience in digital media and electronic technologies, operations and marketing. Brown said that currently, most people use a trusted middleman such as a bank to make a transaction. But blockchain allows consumers and suppliers to connect directly, removing the need for third party validation. Using cryptography to keep exchanges secure, blockchain provides a giant spreadsheet or “digital ledger” of transactions that everyone on the network can see. This network is essentially a chain of computers that must all approve an exchange before it can be verified and recorded. Brown said blockchain technology can work for almost every type of transaction involving value, including money, goods and property. Its potential uses are almost limitless, and blockchain could also help reduce fraud because every transaction would be recorded and distributed on a public ledger. It’s also virtually impossible to hack. “We now have a secure way to make value exchanges with strangers without a central authority,” Brown explained. “The future is here for blockchain and cryptocurrency, but most of us are just now realizing it.” Brown has a bachelor of science from Queens University in Canada, with post-graduate degrees from San Jose State and Cornell University, where he earned a doctorate in materials science.