NIST Releases Blockchain Report for Business Beginners

The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology has issued a blockchain report aimed to assist businesses considering adopting the technology.

AccessTimeIconJan 28, 2018 at 10:20 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 7:29 a.m. UTC
10 Years of Decentralizing the Future
May 29-31, 2024 - Austin, TexasThe biggest and most established global event for everything crypto, blockchain and Web3.Register Now

The National Institute of Standards and Technology – a non-regulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce – has released an overview of blockchain technology, aimed to clarify the central characteristics of the technology, its limitations and common misconceptions.

The document targets beginners to blockchain, specifically organizations considering adopting the technology, and those trying to move beyond the "hype" surrounding blockchain. The authors remind readers that businesses are often tempted by new technology, but that they should be sure that the blockchain is appropriate for their operations before diving in.

"A company's IT managers need to be able to say, we understand this, and then be able to argue whether or not the company needs to use it based on that clear understanding", said Dylan Yaga, computer scientist and one author of the report.

The report identifies the most common misconceptions about the blockchain as relating to control, identity management and trust, explaining that, although the blockchain is decentralized and no central institution controls it, developers, as the creators and maintainers of the system, do exercise some level of control over the blockchain.

Likewise, blockchain lacks control over users' conduct, and only has the authority to execute "transaction rules and specifications". People, the paper says, are often mistaken in thinking that the blockchain provides a means of attributing real-world identities to those associated with private keys.

The authors also point out that there is a misconception that blockchains are a trustless systems, and say that, in fact, a great deal of trust in the technology, developers and user cooperation is necessary for the blockchain to function.

As for limitations of the system, NIST states that the immense amount of energy and bandwidth required to power the blockchain is problematic. Further, because users must manage their own private keys, losing the key comes with higher risks than losing a username or a password on centralized platforms.

The report is open for public feedback until Feb. 23rd.

Chain image via Shutterstock


Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.

Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk's longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to to register and buy your pass now.

Read more about