Blockchain Technologies: Past, Present and Future

April 03, 2018
By Special Guest
Ellie Martin, Co-founder, Startup Change -

When bitcoin was unveiled nearly a decade ago, it received little fanfare. The new digital currency built on mathematical proofs was shared with a relatively small group of cryptography enthusiasts. The coin, and the platform it was built upon, was largely ignored and bitcoin remained worthless for many years.

Then, in 2014, there was a sudden spike. One bitcoin was worth a few hundred dollars. Then a sudden downturn befell the coin, when a major bitcoin firm, Mt.Gox, dissolved. Adoption surged throughout the remaining years, despite numerous scares. Currently, the price of one bitcoin sits at $7,400 after peaking at more than $19,000 late last year. A bitcoin ETF, once a laughable suggestion, becomes an alluring option to some.

Bitcoin, Ethereum, and all the other cryptocurrencies that have been spawned are just the tip of the iceberg, however. Regardless of whether bitcoin is a bubble or a new form of currency, one thing is for certain: blockchain technology has a great deal of potential to innovate every industry.

Blockchain is the underlying technology that makes all cryptocurrency possible. Blockchain acts as a distributed, public ledger. It’s a master ledger for all transactions. Every transaction is logged on a chain of interlinked signed receipts. We can conceptualize these signed receipts as a block. All the blocks are put into the chain chronological order and, because of its decentralized nature, it’s difficult to fraudulently claim certain transactions took place. It’s far too computationally intense for a single user to fudge the numbers on a distributed ledger.

With blockchain we have an even more efficient and secure system for tracking transactions. There is no need for a central authority to monitor and validate every single payment. In the blockchain, public keys transfer units of value, and private keys are used to sign these receipts of this exchange. The exchange is validated by all the users, the entirety of the system, before it is linked to previous blocks on the chain. Finally, when everything is completed, we have a global ledger of interconnected transactions.

Double entry bookkeeping is a foundational idea for modern accounting. It is the idea that for every transaction there are equal and opposite effects on at least two different accounts. This means that a gain posted for one organization should be linked to the loss of another. Essentially, assets for an organization has to be equal to equity and liabilities combined. Today, this seems obvious, but when the system was invented, it was nothing short of revolutionary.

This innovative ledger system, because of its possible benefits to commerce, to the global economy, and to individual consumers, has begun to see adoption and development. The Hyperledger, a cross-industry blockchain development project made possible by the Linux foundation has already seen hundreds of participants from businesses across the globe.

“Not since the Web itself has a technology promised broader and more fundamental revolution than blockchain technology,” the project purports. “A blockchain is a peer-to-peer distributed ledger forged by consensus, combined with a system for “smart contracts” and other assistive technologies.

Together these can be used to build a new generation of transactional applications that establishes trust, accountability and transparency at their core, while streamlining business processes and legal constraints.”

Sony Global Education chose to use the Hyperledger fabric to create a credentials platform that helps consolidate training data and other information. The project aims to bring all of a candidate’s credentials into one spot. This specific project aims to “give businesses and educational institutions a more complete picture of candidates’ backgrounds and help them pick the most qualified individual for each job opportunity and program admission.”

The Hyperledger is only one fabric organizations are using to make new platforms. People are beginning to develop other blockchain applications as well, ones that make payment processing easier, make supply chains more efficient, and health care processes better organized.

Bitcoin made blockchain development possible, and the possibilities for blockchain are endless. The platform that could greatly improve how transactions are done is completely open-source and developer-friendly. At the moment, blockchain is still being experimented with, but it is well on its way to becoming a foundational technology for any and every industry.

About the author: Ellie Martin is co-founder of Startup Change group. Her works have been featured on Yahoo! , Wisebread, AOL, among others. She currently splits her time between her home office in New York and Israel. You may connect with her on Twitter

Edited by Erik Linask



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