The investment world hasn't seen a party quite like bitcoin and cryptocurrency until 2017.
Bitcoin rose about twentyfold in value last year, ethereum surged more than 11,200 percent and ripple, the rising new coin, skyrocketed almost 10,000 percent. Consumed by the growth, many investors are seeing the cryptoworld only in the lens of price movements.
But for those who aren't interested in buying and selling and managing cryptocurrency portfolios, there's another way to invest in the space — learning and investing in the blockchain technology.
Blockchain is a robust technology that resembles the internet in the early '90: It packs the potential to change the way we live, work, consume and interact.
"This is an industry that we think that over several decades will be as revolutionary as the internet. We're going to have several million people working in this industry, if not tens of millions," said Antonis Polemitis, CEO of the University of Nicosia and a pioneer in blockchain and cryptocurrency education. "You are going to need accountants, auditors, lawyers and government regulators who understand how it works. "
In the spring of 2014, the University of Nicosia established the world's first master's degree in digital currency and blockchain, taught online, where Polemitis co-teaches a course with industry thought leader Andreas Antonopoulos.
"If you can develop an expertise at this stage in time at blockchain, you'll have excellent job prospects and probably be pretty popular among your company because a lot of folks are trying to see where it fits in," Polemitis said. "And there's not many people in the world (that) know how this works."
To be clear, bitcoin — the most popular blockchain application — is just one use for the technology. "Blockchain technology has applicability to many business areas including government, healthcare, education, manufacturing, energy and supply chain," according to Gartner's blockchain trend insight report, released earlier this year. The firm's report also predicted that "by 2030, the business value added by blockchain will grow to $3.1 trillion."
Technology giant IBM has built a blockchain unit to deploy the technology in various industries. Using its own blockchain platform Hyperledger, IBM is working with partners like Walmart to speed up food tracing, helping the FDA on optimizing information in clinic drug trials and collaborating with Northern Trust on revamping private equity administration.