A blockchain technology is the one with the following features:
- Blockchain keeps a record of all data exchanges — this record is referred to as a “ledger” in the cryptocurrency world, and each data exchange is a “transaction“. Every verified transaction is added to the ledger as a “block”
- It utilizes a distributed system to verify each transaction — a peer-to-peer network of nodes
- Once signed and verified, the new transaction is added to the blockchain and cannot be altered
The blockchain technology is an undeniably ingenious invention the brainchild of a person Satoshi Nakamoto. But since then, it has evolved into something greater.
By allowing digital information to be distributed but not copied, blockchain technology created the backbone of a new type of internet. Originally devised for the digital currency, Bitcoin, (Buy Bitcoin) the tech community is now finding other potential uses for the technology.
Bitcoin has been called “digital gold,” and for a good reason. To date, the total value of the currency is close to $9 billion US. And blockchains can make other types of digital value. Like the internet (or your car), you don’t need to know how the blockchain technology works to use it.
The blockchain technology is a incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.
A distributed database. Picture a spreadsheet that is duplicated thousands of times across a network of computers. Then imagine that this network is designed to regularly update this spreadsheet and you have a basic understanding of the blockchain.
Information held on a blockchain exists as a shared — and continually reconciled — database. This is a way of using the network that has obvious benefits. The blockchain technology database isn’t stored in any single location, meaning the records it keeps are truly public and easily verifiable. No centralized version of this information exists for a hacker to corrupt. Hosted by millions of computers simultaneously, its data is accessible to anyone on the internet.
Blockchain Technology Durability and robustness
Blockchain technology is like the internet in that it has a built-in robustness. By storing blocks of information that are identical across its network, the blockchain cannot be controlled by any single entity. So has no single point of failure.
Bitcoin was invented in 2008. Since that time, the Bitcoin blockchain has operated without significant disruption. The internet itself has proven to be durable for almost 30 years. It’s a track record that bodes well for blockchain technology as it continues to be developed. As revolutionary as it sounds, Blockchain technology truly is a mechanism to bring everyone to the highest degree of accountability. No more missed transactions, human or machine errors, or even an exchange that was not done with the consent of the parties involved. Above anything else, the most critical area where Blockchain technology helps is to guarantee the validity of a transaction by recording it not only on the main register but a connected distributed system of registers, all of which are connected through a secure validation mechanism.”
Blockchain Technology is Transparent and incorruptible:
The blockchain network lives in a state of consensus, one that automatically checks in with itself every ten minutes. A self-auditing ecosystem of a digital value, the network reconciles every transaction that happens in ten-minute intervals. Each group of these transactions is referred to as a “block”. Two important properties result from this:
- Transparency data is embedded within the network as a whole, by definition it is public.
- It cannot be corrupted altering any unit of information on the blockchain would mean using a huge amount of computing power to override the entire network.
Blockchain Technology is a network of nodes:
A network of so-called computing “nodes” make up the blockchain. A computer connected to the blockchain network using a client that performs the task of validating and relaying transactions gets a copy of the blockchain, which gets downloaded automatically upon joining the blockchain network. Together they create a powerful second-level network, a wholly different vision for how the internet can function. Every node is an “administrator” of the blockchain and joins the network voluntarily (in this sense, the network is decentralized). However, each one has an incentive for participating in the network: the chance of winning Bitcoins.
Nodes are said to be “mining” Bitcoin, but the term is something of a misnomer. In fact, each one is competing to win Bitcoins by solving computational puzzles. Bitcoin was the raison d’etre of the blockchain technology as it was originally conceived. It’s now recognized to be only the first of many potential applications of the technology.
There are an estimated 700 Bitcoin-like cryptocurrencies (exchangeable value tokens) already available. As well, a range of other potential adaptations of the original blockchain technology iscept are currently active, or in development.
The idea of decentralization:
By design, the blockchain is a decentralized technology. A global network of computers uses blockchain technology to jointly manage the database that records Bitcoin transactions. That is, Bitcoin is managed by its network, and not any one central authority. Decentralization means the network operates on a user-to-user (or peer-to-peer) basis.
Who will use the blockchain technology?
Currently, finance offers the strongest use cases for the technology. International remittances, for instance. The World Bank estimates that over $430 billion US in money transfers were sent in 2015. And at the moment there is a high demand for blockchain technology developers.
The blockchain technology potentially cuts out the middleman for these types of transactions. Personal computing became accessible to the general public with the invention of the Graphical User Interface (GUI), which took the form of a “desktop”. Similarly, the most common GUI devised for the blockchain technology is the so-called “wallet” applications, which people use to buy things with Bitcoin, and store it along with other cryptocurrencies.
Transactions online are closely connected to the processes of identity verification. It is easy to imagine that wallet apps will transform in the coming years to include other types of identity management.
The Blockchain Technology & Enhanced security:
By storing data across its network, the blockchain technology eliminates the risks that come with data being held centrally.
Its network lacks centralized points of vulnerability that computer hackers can exploit. Today’s internet has security problems that are familiar to everyone. We all rely on the “username/password” system to protect our identity and assets online. Blockchain security methods use encryption technology.
The basis for this are the so-called public and private “keys”. A “public key” (a long, randomly-generated string of numbers) is a users’ address on the blockchain. Bitcoins sent across the network gets recorded as belonging to that address. The “private key” is like a password that gives its owner access to their Bitcoin or other digital assets. Store your data on the blockchain and it is incorruptible. This is true, although protecting your digital assets will also require safeguarding of your private key by printing it out, creating what’s referred to as a paper wallet. The added security brought by the blockchain new internet business are on track to unbundle the traditional institutions of finance. Blockchain technology holds great potential especially to optimize clearing and settlements, and could represent global savings of up to $6bn per year.
The Blockchain Technology a New Web 3.0
Distributed ledgers enable the coding of simple contracts that will execute when specified conditions are met. Ethereum is an open source blockchain technology project that was built specifically to realize this possibility. Still, in its early stages, Ethereum has the potential to leverage the usefulness of blockchains on a truly world-changing scale.
At the technology’s current level of development, smart contracts can be programmed to perform simple functions. For instance, a derivative could be paid out when a financial instrument meets certain benchmark, with the use of blockchain technology and Bitcoin enabling the payout to be automated.
The sharing economy:
With companies like Uber and AirBnB flourishing, the sharing economy is already a proven success. Currently, however, users who want to hail a ride-sharing service have to rely on an intermediary like Uber. By enabling peer-to-peer payments, the blockchain technology opens the door to direct interaction between parties — a truly decentralized sharing economy results.
Supply chain auditing:
Consumers increasingly want to know that the ethical claims companies make about their products are real. Distributed ledgers provide an easy way to certify that the backstories of the things we buy are genuine. Transparency comes with blockchain-based timestamping of a date and location — on ethical diamonds, for instance — that corresponds to a product number. The UK-based Provenance offers supply chain auditing for a range of consumer goods. Making use of the Ethereum blockchain technology, a Provenance pilot project ensures that fish sold in Sushi restaurants in Japan has been sustainably harvested by its suppliers in Indonesia.
Decentralizing file storage on the internet brings clear benefits. Distributing data throughout the network protects files from getting hacked or lost. An internet made up of completely decentralized websites has the potential to speed up file transfer and streaming times. Such an improvement is not only convenient. It’s a necessary upgrade to the web’s currently overloaded content-delivery systems.
The crowdsourcing of predictions on event probability is proven to have a high degree of accuracy. Averaging opinions cancels out the unexamined biases that distort judgment. Prediction markets that payout according to event outcomes are already active. Blockchains are a “wisdom of the crowd” technology that will no doubt find other applications in the years to come.
Still, in Beta, the prediction market application Augur makes share offerings on the outcome of real-world events. Participants can earn money by buying into the correct prediction. The more shares purchased in the correct outcome, the higher the payout will be. With a small commitment of funds (less than a dollar), anyone can ask a question, create a market based on a predicted outcome, and collect half of all transaction fees the market generates.
Protection of intellectual property:
Smart contracts can protect copyright and automate the sale of creative works online, eliminating the risk of file copying and redistribution.
Mycelia uses the blockchain technology to create a peer-to-peer music distribution system. Founded by the UK singer-songwriter Imogen Heap, Mycelia enables musicians to sell songs directly to audiences, as well as license samples to producers and divvy up royalties to songwriters and musicians — all of these functions being automated by smart contracts.
Internet of Things (IoT):
Smart contracts make the automation of remote systems management possible. A combination of software, sensors, and the network facilitates an exchange of data between objects and mechanisms. The result increases system efficiency and improves cost monitoring. The biggest players in manufacturing, tech and telecommunications are all vying for IoT dominance. Think Samsung, IBM and AT&T. A natural extension of existing infrastructure controlled by incumbents, IoT applications will run the gamut from predictive maintenance of mechanical parts to data analytics, and mass-scale automated systems management.
Blockchain technology enables the buying and selling of the renewable energy generated by neighborhood microgrids. When solar panels make excess energy, Ethereum-based smart contracts automatically redistribute it. Similar types of smart contract automation will have many other applications as the IoT becomes a reality.
There is a definite need for better identity management on the web. The ability to verify your identity is the lynchpin of financial transactions that happen online. However, remedies for the security risks that come with web commerce are imperfect at best. Distributed ledgers offer enhanced methods for proving who you are, along with the possibility to digitize personal documents. Having a secure identity will also be important for online interactions — for instance, in the sharing economy. A good reputation, after all, is the most important condition for conducting transactions online.
AML and KYC:
Anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC) practices have a strong potential for being adapted to the blockchain. Currently, financial institutions must perform a labour intensive multi-step process for each new customer. KYC costs could be reduced through cross-institution client verification, and at the same time increase monitoring and analysis effectiveness.
Today, in exchange for their personal data people can use social media platforms like Facebook for free. In future, users will have the ability to manage and sell the data their online activity generates. Because it can be easily distributed in small fractional amounts, Bitcoin — or something like it — will most likely be the currency that gets used for this type of transaction.
Land title registration:
As Publicly-accessible ledgers, blockchains can make all kinds of record-keeping more efficient. Property titles are a case in point. They tend to be susceptible to fraud, as well as costly and labour intensive to administer.
A number of countries are undertaking blockchain-based land registry projects. Honduras was the first government to announce such an initiative in 2015, Most recently, Sweden announced it was experimenting with a blockchain technology application for property titles.
The potential for added efficiency in share settlement makes a strong use case for blockchains in stock trading. When executed peer-to-peer, trade confirmations become almost instantaneous (as opposed to taking three days for clearance). Potentially, this means intermediaries — such as the clearing house, auditors and custodians — get removed from the process.
Numerous stock and commodities exchanges are prototyping blockchain technology applications for the services they offer, including the ASX (Australian Securities Exchange), the Deutsche bank.
2017 was the year in which blockchain theory achieved general acceptance, but remained in theory, with the big players lingering around the hoop waiting to see who would take the first shot. As the year comes to an end, blockchain technology is tantalizingly close to turning the corner and entering the realm of small-scale commercial ability. Overall, 2018 is going to be the year of the very well-considered and well-funded proof of concept, with a few projects achieving revenue positive status. Venture investment is going to continue to be substantial but less than we saw in 2017 and 2016.