Salesforce has always maintained a reputation for looking forward. That’s why it’s one of the most successful SaaS providers today. They have their proverbial fingers in many pies. Most importantly for 2018, they are leading the way in AI for business and The Internet of Things. But in an interview at the end of March, they announced a surprising measure – to introduce Salesforce Blockchain Technology and its own Salesforce cryptocurrency.

Defining the Terms “Cryptocurrency” and “Blockchain”
A cryptocurrency is a digital currency operating independently of any country (and therefore any authorised national bank). It uses electronic encryption to transfer funds and to regulate such transfers. Bitcoin is perhaps the most famous but it’s not the only choice. Cryptocurrencies are completely electronic which means it offers no physical coins or notes.

Whereas blockchain is an electronic system designed to track and administer these cryptocurrencies – their usage and storage, for example. However, there is also a more generalised business function. It’s record-keeping functions means it can be used to track anything with a tradeable value. In this case, it’s used to track and maintain the specific cryptocurrency to which it is applied.

The Trend for Cryptocurrency
This is not unique to Salesforce of course; many other providers with business interests in the web have announced similar plans. In most cases though, the idea is to develop and maintain native solutions. This is the way the world is going now. Bitcoin has proven it can work and with native cryptocurrencies planned for the rest of 2018 and beyond, it was only a matter of time before the big and established players decided to get behind blockchain and cryptocurrency. It has raised a lot of questions and will continue to do so even as these organisations develop and implement their plans.

Reactions were mixed and although welcomed in many areas, some questioned the wisdom of native solutions instead of investing in already-established cryptocurrencies. Nevertheless, Salesforce’s new investment may revolutionise this still young technology.

How the Salesforce Blockchain Technology Idea Developed
At the end of March, Business Insider reporter Julie Bort interviewed the co-founders of Salesforce Marc Benioff and Parker Harris. They were open and frank about how their company had come to consider and then begin work on its own blockchain tech.

Benioff explained how they were at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. It was there that he first came up with the idea of a blockchain for Salesforce. At the same time as the WEF was taking place, a conference on cryptocurrency was also taking place. Cue much interaction and coming together of two web powerhouses at the same hotel at the same time when Benioff got talking to one of the other conference’s attendees.

That conversation got him thinking about Salesforce present role and what impact the company could have going forward. The more he considered Salesforce and the technology, the more he believed the company could benefit from using Blockchain. The idea is to develop a Salesforce cryptocurrency and blockchain solution by the time Dreamforce comes around in September

This did not come out of the blue; it is clear that Salesforce has been thinking about Blockchain and cryptocurrency for some time, but the business strategy for developing such a system is never easy. It’s expected to be a tall order and nobody at Salesforce underestimates the complexity of how to approach it.

It’s Early Stages for Salesforce
Naturally, even with a planned release of late September, it is still early days for Salesforce. Based on what limited information they have already released, they are already working on a product inspired by present blockchain standards. It will not go live at Dreamforce, but most tech observers and Salesforce providers expect full disclosure by then.

No doubt the Salesforce directors and senior developers have already discussed this and put in a preliminary plan of implementation. Even with the limited information that we know already, it is clear that the idea is out of the ideas stage and into development. It’s equally clear that Salesforce sees benefits and merits of not just providing its own currency, but developing its own administration (blockchain) system too. We don’t yet know whether the currency will contribute towards their upcoming application that uses blockchain.

Salesforce Blockchain Public Interest and Possible Bitcoin Functionality
Many tech commentators have already offered their opinion on this and speculated on its nature. It’s only natural that third parties would be interested in what Salesforce intends to offer. It’s been much publicised that some users have asked Salesforce to consider permitting Bitcoin support. So far, they have not done so. However, the situations are not mutually exclusive. As their own cryptocurrency and blockchain develop, it won’t necessarily follow that Bitcoin is off the table.

It’s important to remember that Salesforce is not the only organisation currently investigating and attempting to implement cryptocurrency and blockchain. 2018 could be a year of growth in competition for this sector with it no longer dominated by Bitcoin.