9 Important Things to Know About Blockchain

Blockchain is to bitcoin what the Internet is to e-mail. Even if you’re not ready to use digital currency, you can benefit from understanding this new technology.

blockchain

Technology is changing at such a fast pace that it can be difficult to keep track of everything in the news. Some of those technologies will survive, others will be reconfigured and still others will fail.

Some Background On Blockchain

Blockchain is one technology that will continue to thrive. It has been around since 2008, when it was first introduced along with bitcoin, a digital currency (aka a cryptocurrency).

Despite some glitches along the way, both blockchain and bitcoin have flourished since they were first introduced, and both have become relevant to many industries, including health care, insurance and transportation.

Unlike Bitcoin, however, which has been joined by a number of other alternative currencies, blockchain remains the main underpinning of all of them as well as of other applications.

How Blockchain Works

At a time in which data management and security has become a primary concern of all business sectors, blockchain has emerged as a safe way to digitally record and memorialize financial transactions without needing centralized third-party authentication.

Bitcoin still is the leading digital currency. Like the paper money and coins, bitcoin’s value stems from the fact that it can be used to buy goods and services. Bitcoin (or any other digital currency) and blockchain work together. Here are nine things you need to know:

  1. A digital file called a “ledger” is used to keep track of your bitcoin.
  2. Your ledger is distributed across a network of private computers (called “nodes”).
  3. Every time you initiate a transaction, every node in the network is notified so it can update the balance in your ledger using your public key.
  4. Blockchain does not keep track of your balance; it only tracks the transactions you make.
  5. Your bitcoins are kept in a “wallet” that is encrypted with a specific public key as well as an encrypted private key. Only you can use your private key to encrypt and decrypt your transactions.
  6. You can have as many wallets as you wish. Each has its own private and public keys.
  7. Every time you use your private key you generate a digital signature, and blockchain uses that signature to verify your transaction. This signature changes every time you initiate or change a transaction. This makes it impossible to change a recorded transaction.
  8. Transactions are grouped into blocks. Each block contains a set number of transactions and a link to the previous block.
  9. The blocks are organized in a time-related chain and connected through cryptography that relies on special mathematical functions and codes. Every transaction in each unique block is considered to have happened at the same time.

Benefits Of Blockchain

Blockchain has many benefits, including the following:

  • Value (bitcoin or another cryptocurrency) can be transferred within a few minutes and secure within a few hours.
  • Transactions are transparent because anyone can verify any transaction at any time by following its trail along the blockchain.
  • Transactions are private: only you have the private key to your wallet.

Also consider the following:

  • No centralized entity oversees the transactions, so there is no help desk to call if you need help. You alone control your account. Transactions are not secured by an entity like the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. If something goes wrong and your digital currency is somehow diverted from your account, you have no recourse.
  • The value of bitcoin and other digital currencies is volatile. Their value isn’t controlled by an entity like the Federal Reserve or the World Bank, which means their value is not as stable as traditional currency.

The growth and evolution of blockchain technology over the past 11 years or so is impressive. To discuss how it may continue to evolve, contact us today.

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Featured Image by Hitesh Choudhary on Unsplash

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