Do I know anyone using bitcoin on a daily basis? The answer is no and I suspect that is the case for the vast majority of people. Do I believe that it fills a void in the economic system? Again, the answer is no. Where will it be in terms of its rate against the dollar in, say, one year? I don't have a clue. Having said all that, there is a glaring reality that the blockchain technology underpinning the currency is now making inroads into the real world. I will expand on this and give an example of a company that may well be impacted by it.

Although Tantalum is not exactly a household word, it certainly is used by far more people than bitcoin. In fact, it's quite likely that you are utilising it right now in a gadget that you are using or carrying. Fair enough, the quantity may be absolutely microscopic but it is incredibly useful and sought after, especially for the production of electronic components. And therein lies the problem. It's mined in some of the most dangerous and conflict ridden parts of the world, such as Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Whether we like it or not the problems affecting these areas are now impacting us. From terrorism to the migration of millions of people. In a globalised world of mass transport and communications systems, their issues are now our issues.

One of the drivers of the carnage that has impacted places like the DRC has been the money derived from mining, amongst other things, Tantalum. To put this into context, the Great African war in the DRC killed 5.4 million people by 2008. This tragedy has not gone unnoticed. Both the US, through the Dodd-Frank Act and the EU with The Conflict Minerals Regulation have sought to address the problem. In essence, both require companies based in their jurisdictions, and beyond, to use certified sources of certain minerals and that includes Tantalum. That takes me back to the technology behind bitcoin.

I would suggest that the blockchain lends itself to verifying the source and confirming the end user of this very valuable commodity. Moreover, I would argue that the dynamics of the Tantalum industry are favourable to a blockchain based supply system. For a start, there are very few major end users…

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