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Wait, What Is Blockchain?

May 23, 2016, 1:00 PM UTC
Utah Software Engineer Mints Physical Bitcoins
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - APRIL 26: A pile of Bitcoins are shown here after Software engineer Mike Caldwell minted them in his shop on April 26, 2013 in Sandy, Utah. Bitcoin is an experimental digital currency used over the Internet that is gaining in popularity worldwide. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
Photograph by George Frey/Getty Images

Though it sounds like a series of defensive maneuvers ripped out of an NFL playbook, the blockchain is actually a way to structure data, and the foundation of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. This coding breakthrough—which consists of concatenated blocks of transactions—allows competitors to share a digital ledger across a network of computers without need for a central authority. No single party has the power to tamper with the records: the math keeps everyone honest. Forty of the world’s top financial firms are experimenting with the tech.

Example of blockchain in a sentence:

“Bitcoin the currency, I think, is going to go nowhere … the blockchain is a technology which we’ve been studying and yes it’s real.” —Jamie Dimon on CNBC

For more on the blockchain, watch this Fortune video:

 

A version of this article appears in the June 1, 2016 issue of Fortune with the headline “Word Check: Blockchain.”