Blockchain for Dummies!

Many companies are accepting bitcoins, many are not. Here is a list. These include Target, Tesla, Whole Foods, Microsoft, Home Depot, Intuit, Dell, PayPal/EBay, Sears, and many others.  With many companies accepting the change and others getting ready to, bitcoins are an extremely fast-spreading currency. The crypto-currencies have multiplied in the market place in recent years. QR codes are the biggest help in real-world bitcoin transfers. Using a smartphone and a Bitcoin wallet app, a user scans a label and presses a small buttoned aptly named “spend.”

Every transaction that happens between a buyer and seller or a transferor and transferee or between 2 members on the network, is verified and validated by “miners” to ensure it is secured and there is no risk of double spending. These miners are similar to VISA or MasterCard or Amex of the credit card world that provides a platform to exchange, validate and authorize. The miner creates a block of records which holds a copied record of all the verified transactions that have occurred in the network over the past ‘n’ minutes. Each transaction in every block is made at specific time and linked to previous block of transactions. Digital records are lumped together into “blocks” then bound together cryptographically and chronologically into a “chain” using complex mathematical algorithms. This encryption process, known as “hashing” is carried out by lots of different computers. If they all agree on the answer, each block receives a unique digital signature. The groups/chains of these blocks of transactions is referred to as Blockchain. The Blockchain is seen as the main technological innovation of Bitcoin, since it stands as proof of all the transactions on the network. Blockchain, or distributed ledger, technology is more secure, transparent, faster and less expensive than current financial systems. The distributed nature of a Blockchain database means that it’s harder for hackers to attack it – they would have to get access to every copy of the database simultaneously to be successful. It also keeps data secure and private because the hash cannot be converted back into the original data – it’s a one-way process.

In short, Blockchain is a method of recording data – a digital ledger of transactions, agreements, contracts – anything that needs to be independently recorded and verified as having happened. The big difference is that this ledger isn’t stored in one place, it’s distributed across several, hundreds or even thousands of computers around the world. In 2015, some of the leading financial institutions such as Visa, Goldman Sachs, Citi and other Wall Street incumbents joined venture capital firms to pour $488 million into the industry. In a World Economic Forum report released in September, “Deep Shift: Technology Tipping Points and Societal Impacts,” 58% of survey respondents said that they expected that by the year 2025, 10% of global gross domestic product will be stored on Blockchain technology. If banks started sharing data using a tailor-made version of Blockchain it could remove the need for middlemen, a lot of manual processing, and speed up transactions. If banks and other financial institutions are able to speed up transactions and take costs out of the system, it should mean cheaper, more efficient services for us.