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Blockchain – Surely it’s more complicated?

Yes – but as a concept, not much more. Complexities come in the implementation and the journey to realise value from such implementations. The above example will, of course, be overly simplistic for some – but may be a starting point for others.

In a traditional environment, trusted third parties act as intermediaries for financial transactions. If you have ever sent money overseas, it will pass through an intermediary (usually a bank). It will usually not be instantaneous (taking up to 3 days) and the intermediary will take a commission for doing this either in the form of exchange rate conversion or other charges.

The original Blockchain is open-source technology which offers an alternative to the traditional intermediary for transfers of the crypto-currency Bitcoin. The intermediary is replaced by the collective verification of the ecosystem offering a huge degree of traceability, security and speed.

The revolution of blockchain is not going to happen from outside the system; it’s going to happen from within the system. – Brad Garlinghouse

In the example above (a “public Blockchain”), there are multiple versions of you as “nodes” on a network acting as executors of transactions and miners simultaneously. Transactions are collected into blocks before being added to the Blockchain. Miners receive a Bitcoin reward based upon the computational time it takes to work out a) whether the transaction is valid and b) what is the correct mathematical key to link to the block of transactions into the correct place in the open ledger. As more transactions are executed, more Bitcoins flow into the virtual money supply. The “reward” miners get will reduce every 4 years until Bitcoin production will eventually cease (although estimates say this won’t be until 2140!). Of course, although the original Blockchain was intended to manage Bitcoin, other virtual currencies, such as Ether, can be used.

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