Bitcoin may have lost more than 60% of its value since its high of nearly $20,000 last December, but that doesn’t mean we’ve seen the end of the technology behind this alternative currency. In today’s blog, I want to show you how one long-standing blue chip recently revealed it intends to use Bitcoin’s next wave of tech to power its own business.
Now, when it comes to Bitcoin, there are two major factors this cryptocurrency has introduced to mainstream America. The first is the notion of alternative currencies. That is, currencies that don’t require the foundation of an existing central banking system, as almost all modern currencies do. This is an important development in its own right, but it’s not the one I’m most interested in today.
The second main development Bitcoin has introduced to us is the mainstream use of the blockchain technology behind these currencies. Blockchain is the digital record-keeping system that tracks and logs all Bitcoin transactions. And blockchain is the development I want to discuss with you today.
That’s because blockchain has many more uses than simply as a foundation for cryptocurrency exchanges. Some analysts even believe blockchain may be the future of business itself, and I’m not opposed to that kind of optimistic thinking. I’ll show you precisely what I mean in a second. But first, if blockchain is the future of business, then one of my favorite blue chip companies revealed it’s leading this charge last week.
UnitedHealth Group Incorporated (UNH) is the largest single health carrier in the United States. It serves more than 85 million people worldwide and is a parent company to six businesses, including UnitedHealthcare. Its other main branch, Optum, administers everything from mental health and substance-abuse programs to mail-order pharmaceuticals.
And last Monday, UnitedHealthcare and Optum, were among five healthcare companies unveiling a new pilot program. The program—which uses the same blockchain technology we were just talking about to power its record keeping—is designed to improve data quality and lower administrative costs associated with changes to health plan provider directories. This new initiative is driven in part by the fact that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) may start fining Medicare insurers for inaccurate provider lists.
This is an excellent example of using next wave technology to power an existing business. And UNH is already being rewarded for this development. Along with this news, UnitedHeath Group was the only stock trading in positive territory in the Dow during last Monday’s plunge among the broader indices. As a result, UNH shares ended the week more than 4% higher. Now, that’s not too shabby when the Dow itself wound up down almost a full percentage point for the week.