The roller-coaster cryptocurrency called bitcoin has given its underlying technology a bad name. Surveys by World Wide Worx of corporations and small and medium enterprises in South Africa showed that, after the recent bitcoin boom and bust, what little enthusiasm there was for blockchain, a digital form of distributed ledger, has all but evaporated. Now, however, blockchain is likely to shed the T-shirt of speculation, and don the formal suit of business purpose. On Tuesday last week, the Reserve Bank announced the successful conclusion of Project Khokha, a proof of concept designed to simulate a real-world trial of blockchain in the wholesale payment system. The trial showed that the daily volume of the South African payments system could be processed in less than two hours using the technology. The next day, on the other side of the world, enterprise resource planning software giant SAP unveiled an initiative to make blockchain a standard business service. At its Sapphire Now con...

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