If you are someone interested in finances, technology, or at least have read some news recently, I’m pretty sure you must have heard the word “blockchain” somewhere by now. But… What exactly is Blockchain Technology you might wonder?
Well, from now on, you might want to keep your eyes and ears open whenever the word “blockchain” is mentioned because it is the piece of technology that has been revolutionizing the global economy over the last few years.
First things first: meet the blockchain.
The blockchain is a specific type of database -a collection of information stored electronically on a computer system-, in which all the information is located in different chunks (blocks) that are chained together. You might think that every block contains a small part of the data, but no. Every block contains every different block’s info, and they do that to keep a record of every new piece of information coming and all the existing before. This record is not locked inside of a unique server: it is constantly shared across the internet at every moment in blockchain.com, and everyone can actually check it by themselves.
Why do they do that? To protect every exchange of information users are doing using blockchain. Every block could be individually hacked and the data inside could be changed, but the info in the other blocks remains the same, including all the data about the hacked block. Information like the kind of data, the users exchanging it, the day or value of the transaction is still public. If you wanted to commit fraud, you’d need to hack every single block: around three hundred thousand, located in different computers all over the world. Not an easy job, am I right?
This key feature of the blockchain makes the system unhackable: when one of the blocks’ data is changed, all the other ones detect that something is wrong and expel the corrupted block from the chain. Every time a new exchange of information happens, a new chain block is created. However, to be a part of it, the block needs to solve a complex math problem. A computer is capable of doing that with its processor, but it will take a bit of time. This process is called “mining” and all these “miners” gain a commission for lending their computers; meaning that thousands of computers oversee every transaction that occurs inside the blockchain, making it one of the safest financial systems in the world.
So, why is the blockchain technology changing everything, and what’s the role that it’ll be playing in the near future?
The human species has a particular feature that makes us different from all animals on the earth. We created a global system of laws to control and keep track of everything: we have journalists, historians, administrators, auditors, and accountants that manage every single part of human activity. Despite all these efforts, our societies are far from being perfect. Every human record can be altered, and the institutions that are supposed to play a fundamental role in protecting our most valuable assets -i.e. governments, banks- have their own interests, with corruption being one of the biggest problems nowadays.
With the blockchain, you don’t need the presence of any of them to do a transaction. It’s all up for users, and the community is the one allowing the exchange to be done without the presence of third parties companies. With this system, the trust isn’t in an institution, but in the people, the system, and the record as such, remember that is all public.
That’s why Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin use this kind of database, but it could be used for anything, even your software developments. Money, school records, presidential ballots, medical records, product trackers… Literally anything, even art. Sooner or later, society will be using the blockchain in their daily lives. It is a matter of time before the blockchain revolution reaches our home… And you better be prepared when the moment comes!