The financial sector is currently undergoing a major transformation, brought about by the rapid development and spread of new technologies. The confluence of ‘finance’ and ‘technology’ is often referred to as ‘Fintech’, typically describing companies or innovations that employ new technologies to improve or innovate financial services. ‘Fintech’ developments are seen across all areas of the financial sector, including payments and financial infrastructures, consumer and SME lending, insurance, investment management, and venture financing. This note on distributed ledger technology (DLT) and blockchains is part of a series of short notes that explore new trends and developments in Fintech and analyze their potential relevance for WBG activities. Forthcoming notes in this series will cover marketplace lending, ‘InsureTech’, and other topics. This note outlines the mechanisms, origins, and key characteristics of DLT; the difference between ‘public’ and ‘private’ DLT; the technology’s main advantages, challenges, and risks; relevant examples of DLT applications (with a focus on financial sector applications); and a brief overview of activities by governments, multilateral organization, and other stakeholders in this space. Finally, this note proposes next steps for the World Bank to study and evaluate areas where DLT could potentially be integrated into World Bank financial sector operations.