Blockchain—What You Need to Know
Blockchains are a new data structure that is secure, cryptography-based, and distributed across a network. It is the technology that supports cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, but it can support the transfer of any data or digital asset.
Spearheaded by Bitcoin, blockchains achieve consensus among distributed nodes, allowing digital goods to be transferred without the need for a centralized body to authorize transactions. However, Bitcoin is not optimized for every potential use case of distributed network trust.
The blockchain ecosystem at present is like the early Internet, a permissionless innovation environment in which email, the World Wide Web, Napster, Skype, and Uber were built.
Different blockchains have unique balances of centralization, incentives, and business strategies but all share a connected grand vision for disruptive innovation.
One of the powerful innovations of post-Bitcoin blockchain technologies is the smart contract, a piece of software that codifies legal procedures with decentralized, autonomous execution.
Blockchains enable services and business models that are not viable using existing digital infrastructure, the broad categories of which are: cryptocurrencies, smart contract platforms, asset allocation blockchains, and decentralized autonomous ledgers.
While financial services are the low-hanging fruit of blockchain disruption, smart contracts are expected to disrupt legal services, and the public sector will adopt blockchain tools for radical transparency.
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