What happened?
IBM (NYSE:IBM) has taken the lead in creating a next-generation banking system, based on the same blockchain transaction processing as the bitcoin project. Though it has been brewing for a while, the so-called Hyperledger system was officially announced on Thursday.

It's not exactly another crypto-currency in the bitcoin vein, but a larger and more ambitious idea. This is a general transaction system that should eventually be able to handle any type of financial or service exchange. Examples include quick and secure delivery of automotive or real estate titles, or managing retail supply chains with orders and money moving both up and down the transaction ladder.

Besides IBM, a plethora of major tech companies are helping out with the development of this tool set. For example, Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) is contributing data processing expertise. and Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) fin-tunes the networking aspects of running Hyperledger on a global level.

The consortium also includes several major banks. JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) and Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) head up that platoon, lending both financial know-how and business credibility to the entire idea.

Does it matter?
Blockchain transaction management is an idea whose time has come. Bitcoin alone can't handle all the tasks that IBM and its supporting cast envision, so Hyperledger may indeed find a significant role to play in the future of global business transactions.

There is, of course, no guarantee that Hyperledger itself will replace the hodgepodge of transaction systems we use today. Another provider could very well step in with an even better implementation -- or simply a better marketing campaign -- and steal Hyperledger's lunch.

IBM and friends are definitely shaping the blockchain discussion right now, and it's their game to lose. If this system takes off in a big way, you can bet that IBM will make a mint on implementing, managing, and supporting Hyperledger around the world.

It could take a few years, but you gotta start somewhere. Keep a close eye on this, especially if you own stock in any of the early adopters and innovators here.