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19th of July 2018

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What is Blockchain? Everything you need to know

Blockchain - latest statistics

- By 2025, ten percent of global GDP will be stored on blockchains or blockchain-related technology (World Economic Forum)

- 369,098 - The highest number of confirmed Bitcoin transactions in one day (May 14th) over the past year (Blockchain.info)

- 80 per cent of the world’s Bitcoin mining nodes are located in China (Cryptocoins News) 

Blockchain: What’s new 

04/07 - NEWS - UK government urged to embrace blockchain - New report calls for the UK government to appoint a chief blockchain officer....

25/06 - NEWS - Microsoft reveals major new blockchain project - Partnership with EY looks to help manage content rights and royalties issues using blockchain...

22/06 - FEATURE - Eli Hallufgil/COTI - DAG – The next generation of blockchain - DAG solves the limitations of blockchain and allows the technology to scale infinitely and at negligible cost...

21/06 - NEWS - VMware set to launch enterprise blockchain service - VMworld catalogues offer a glimpse of VMware's upcoming offerings...

21/06 - FEATURE - James DeBello/Mitek - Blockchain for identity: a worthy, unattainable dream - Creating a system that uses blockchain to verify identity comes with a number of roadblocks that are likely insurmountable...

07/06 - NEWS - SAP launches blockchain platform - Company wants to speed up the adoption of blockchain technology for businesses.

05/06 - NEWS - HPE prepares P2P blockchain cloud concept - A blockchain-based solution has three key benefits, HPE claims, with those being security, reliability and efficiency...

01/06 - FEATURE - Maher Cheboo/GE Power - Powering a sustainable future: how blockchain can solve bitcoin’s energy consumption crisis - Blockchain could provide the flexibility needed for the electricity network of the future...

01/06 - FEATURE - Chris Minas/Nimbletank - What does blockchain mean for digital transformation? - The impact can be as significant as the browser was to the growth of the internet...

30/05 - FEATURE - Adam Edwards/Wedlake Bell LLP - Blockchain – Can we trust you? What legal and cybersecurity risks lurk behind the hype? - The crypto Pied Pipers want your money in order to build their promised train-set, with the added bonus of making some of them very rich...

30/05 - FEATURE - Vivien Fuhrer/EZYcount - How to create the regulatory framework for Blockchain’s mass adoption - Common standards must first be developed before blockchain technology can be adopted on a large scale...

25/05 - FEATURE - Patrick Lastennet/Interxion - How traditional finance companies can safeguard their future in the age of blockchain - By having the right cloud infrastructure and security solutions in place, businesses will be fully prepared to take advantage of the blockchain...

24/05 - FEATURE - Colin Bull/SQS - Moving blockchain beyond the finance industry - Blockchain technology has applications across a number of industries and could transform the way many businesses operate...

21/05 - FEATURE - Michael Smolenski/Lightstreams - The road to protecting content on blockchain-based systems - Could blockchain technology be used to create a decentralised copyright protection system?

21/05 - FEATURE - Pavel Bains/Bluzelle - Using the blockchain to transform data management - As we increasingly use data in new ways, we need systems that can not only keep up, but which can offer capabilities to further innovation...

16/05 - NEWS - HTC working on a blockchain-powered phone - New Exodus device features built-in software designed for cryptocurrencies...

14/05 - NEWS - HSBC makes landmark blockchain transaction - UK banking giant performs first trade finance transaction using a single blockchain platform...

10/05 - FEATURE - Adrian Clarke/Evident Proof - Verifying you've been forgotten – only the blockchain can do that - The blockchain can help businesses and individuals be confident that their data has been deleted...

09/05 - NEWS - Facebook forms all-new blockchain team - Social media giant looking to leverage blockchain technology...

02/05 - FEATURE - Dr. Cedric Jeannot/APrivacy - Trust issues surrounding data privacy: Blockchain is the new backbone to the internet - here is a new solution that is resolving trust fears. Blockchain has completely revolutionised the way in which data can be stored and accessed...

24/04 - FEATURE - Andrei Povarov/Luxoft - How to find healthy food – with blockchain - With the increasing complexity of the global supply chain today, it is almost impossible for retailers to guarantee the provenance of products they sell...

18/04 - FEATURE - Alastair Johnson/Nuggets - How blockchain will end data breaches - By incorporating the best aspects of cryptography, blockchain allows for the creation of an immutable, decentralised ledger that could finally spell the end of data breaches...

13/04 - NEWS - Santander launches blockchain-based international payments - New system allows for European transfers to be completed in one day and will soon be available in the UK...

12/04 - FEATURE - Gary McKay/APPII - How blockchain is changing the nature of trust - Some claim blockchain will change the nature of trust – but what does this actually mean?

11/04 - FEATURE - Zheng Zhang/EnvisionX - How could blockchain bridge the gap between advertisers and publishers? - In today’s fast-changing and heavily automated advertising marketplace, it comes as no surprise that advertisers and publishers are now faced with an increasing amount of vendors and intermediaries at all stages of the ad campaign process...

06/04 - FEATURE - Henry Sinn/Spectrum Internet - Is blockchain technology really the future of the Internet? - Blockchain technology has the potential to revolutionize how business transactions take place...

04/04 - FEATURE - Laura Bailey/Qadre - Why we need to separate blockchain technology from cryptocurrencies - As a global society, if we are to get the most out of the potential blockchain can bring, we need guidance on its applications and desired outcomes for how we want this technology to support our society...

23/03 - FEATURE - Fridtjof Detlefs/Tata Consultancy Services - Streamlining the insurance industry with blockchain - Although it has a reputation for conservatism when it comes to technology, the insurance sector has recognised the benefits of technologies such as AI sooner than many other industries...

22/03 - NEWS - Google is reportedly working on its own blockchain technology - Google may be developing its own digital ledger to secure its cloud business...

22/03 - FEATURE - Gareth Emery/Choon - Music & blockchain: From theory to concrete application - We have not seen the advent of a blockchain-based music service that is as usable and widely applicable as the likes of Spotify, Deezer, Amazon Music and Apple Music – but financially fairer to artists...

21/03 - FEATURE - Axel Schumacher/Shivom - Using blockchain to tackle one of the largest data sets around - Can scientists utilise blockchain technology to help map our DNA?

21/03 - FEATURE - Matvey Dyadkov/Bitmedia.io - How e-commerce and business models stand to gain from Blockchain adoption - Blockchain technology has huge potential to disrupt and radically transform the way a large number of traditional industries such as: Financial Services, Data management, Intellectual Property and Transportation operate...

16/03 - FEATURE - Dan Taylor/Fletchers Solicitors - Why the legal sector should be investing in blockchain technology - The blockchain technology that powers and documents every Bitcoin transaction has gone fairly unnoticed. Until now...

13/03 - FEATURE - Erik Johnson/Epicor Software - Is your business blockchain ready? - The advent of blockchain is fuelling a huge number of start-up companies focused on specific industries and consumer applications and governments are considering how blockchain can make tax reporting easier while reducing fraud...

07/03 - FEATURE - Sascha Ragtschaa/Chainium - How can Blockchain revolutionise the equity market - A modern equity network needs to be built with the interests of both investors and business owners at its core...

01/03 - FEATURE - Maxim Zavgorodny/DataArt - How Blockchain is improving Financial Services - This article explores the shortfalls of the existing financial transactions model and the potential for transformation through the use of blockchain...

01/02 - FEATURE - Gary McKay/APPII - How bitcoin and blockchain can help you find a job in 2018 - The fundamental premise of offering secure and trusted documentation of transaction and processes is one that can diminish the need for manual involvement in virtually every broker service industry...

25/01 - NEWS - Innovate UK set to invest millions in blockchain projects - £19 million set to be poured into new investments as government signals further support for blockchain...

24/01 - NEWS - EU says it will "embrace" blockchain - European regulators tighten their grip on the cryptocurrency market while fully supporting the technology behind it...

17/01 - NEWS - IBM and Maersk transform supply chain with blockchain tech - Using blockchain could increase global trade by 15 per cent, companies claim...

16/01 - FEATURE - Margarita Khartanovich/Binary District - Breaking down Blockchain: 10 common misconceptions - Blockchain is more carnival strongman than Hercules — impressive, but far from omnipotent...

09/01 - FEATURE - Fahima Anwar/dubtokens - Boosting video audience engagement and monetisation using blockchain - Blockchain technology will allow advertisers to keep track of customer interaction and engagement...

12/12 - FEATURE - Robert Belgrave/Wirehive - The big bang: cryptocurrencies and blockchain in 2018 - Blockchain will see mainstream adoption by banks and other businesses next year as cryptocurrencies continue to gain traction amongst consumers...

06/12 - FEATURE - Miguel Leite/Coinvision - What to be aware of when investing in crypto, an expert’s advice to potential retail investors - There is a number of obstacles that are preventing retail investors from entering into the cryptocurrency space in serious numbers...

01/12 - FEATURE - Michael Brown/Credit Angel - How blockchain technology could change finance in 2018 - Blockchain technology could allow banks to remove the middlemen and speed up transactions for their customers...

27/11 - NEWS - Blockchain could overhaul ID assurance - Think tank Reform argues that blockchain could "hand back control of data to the citizen"...

20/11 - NEWS - Blockchain could render banks and lawyers obsolete - New technology could replace central authority services, with banks and lawyers among those at risk...

17/11 - FEATURE - Simon Bain/BOHH Labs - Blockchain: Breakthrough or buzzword? - BOHH Labs CEO cautions organisations before overcommitting to blockchain – the technology at the heart of bitcoin – and questions in fact whether it’s a breakthrough waiting to happen or just the latest craze to hit the market, backed by marketing hype...

13/11 - NEWS - HPE launches blockchain-as-a-service offering - Mission Critical Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) is the first product in the HPE Mission Critical Blockchain family...

07/11 - FEATURE - Jeremy Millar/ConsenSys Systems - Challenges to overcome when implementing blockchain solutions - This emerging technology is quickly being adopted by large and small organisations alike...

02/11 - FEATURE - Jed Grant/Peer Mountain - Could a radically different approach to GDPR compliance be enabled by blockchain? - A decentralized system of trust based on blockchain technology could allow customers to control their own personal data...

31/10 - FEATURE - Josh Gordon-Blake/Pangea Money Transfer - What bitcoin and blockchain bring to the remittance table - These new technologies have the potential to transform the way we send money between countries...

23/10 - NEWS - Bitcoin reaches new all-time high - CME Group Inc announced it would be providing a “regulated trading venue for the cryptocurrency market”...

16/10 - NEWS - IBM releases cross-border blockchain payments system - Settlement times can be reduced from days to mere seconds...

06/10 - NEWS - Major banks sign up to blockchain syndicated loans plan - Seven of the world's biggest top banks, including HSBC, ING and BNY Mellon, are joining forces...

05/10 - FEATURE - Danny H. Lee/Secure Identity Ledger Corporation - How Blockchain and digital ID puts user back in control - Discussing ‘identity’ in the context of personal identity online or “who I really am” and the attributes and characteristics that are important to us...

03/10 - NEWS - Oracle announces new blockchain service - IBM-backed blockchain service will help boost enterprise presence...

28/09 - FEATURE - Gary McKay/APPII - Blockchain’s potential reaches further than the world of finance - This emerging technology can be used to transfer and securely store assets and documents across a number of industries...

25/09 - FEATURE - Matthew Key/BT - Blockchain: The art of the possible - This emerging technology has the potential to transform the way a number of industries do business...

20/09 - FEATURE - Sergey Bludov/DataArt - Blockchain meets the challenge - The music industry is both excited and cautious about emerging technologies, and blockchain is no exception...

30/08 - FEATURE - Shaan Mulchandani/Aricent - Five ways blockchains can transform products, platforms and services - Blockchain has the potential to change the way organisations do business...

23/08 - NEWS - IBM blockchain targets worldwide food safety - Computing titan teams up with some of the world's biggest food companies to use its cloud-based blockchain to track any issues...

11/08 - FEATURE - Floyd DCosta/Block Armour - Harnessing blockchain technology for digital transformation - Could blockchain be the next big platform to drive enterprise digital transformation? 

11/08 - NEWS - Microsoft unveils Coco Framework, aimed at boosting blockchain - Developed with Intel, the new service aims to improve performance, as well as governance and confidentiality...

03/08 - FEATURE - Phil Beckett/Alvarez and Marsal - Blockchain can be the good guy in the cyber wild west - This emerging technology has the potential to become the most important anti-fraud mechanism known to business...

01/08 - NEWS - Blockchain really is the future of FinTech - Embracing digital cryptocurrencies will help financial services grow and prosper, Cognizant survey predicts...

01/08 - FEATURE - Antony Abell/TrustMe - Can Blockchain secure industrial processes? -  Blockchain technology could be used as a means of promoting digital trusts between organisations and their customers...

19/07 - NEWS: London Stock Exchange to start using blockchain - London's main Stock Exchange is set to start using blockchain to improve transparency for shareholding information among unlisted businesses and draw more mature investors...  

12/07 - FEATURE - Luis Carranza/London Fintech Week - Can London’s DNA of regulation, culture and tradition save its FinTech industry amidst its EU divorce? - Although uncertainty continuing to swirl surrounding Brexit, for a sector which contributes over £6bn to the UK economy and at this critical moment in our history, can we really afford to rely on our heritage alone?

22/06 - FEATURE - Gavin Fell/Exact - The entrepreneur’s guide to robots, IoT, VR and blockchain - As a tool for every budding entrepreneur, we’ve assembled an overview of the most important technologies to watch right now...

21/06 - FEATURE - David Blundell/BlockPool - Blockchain technology could be the key to better targeted advertising - The ability to trace and manage transactions that could make blockchain highly disrupting in advertising - and here's why...

09/06 - FEATURE - Shahar Namer/CryptoChip.io - Land-based casinos discovering cryptocurrency - As the saying goes, “if you can’t beat them, join them.” This is why offline casinos are changing and adapting to the new marketplace, with blockchain and cryptocurrencies being one of the top new methods...

(Image: © Image source: Shutterstock/MaximP)What is Blockchain? 

Like much of the technology world, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin still rely on some form of database that are able to track large volumes of transactions and keep them secure.The solution used by many of the world’s largest digital currencies is the blockchain. 

First implemented in 2009, and revolutionised with ‘Blockchain 2.0’ in 2014, Blockchain technology consists of blocks that hold batches of timestamped transactions, each block is linked to the previous one through cryptography, thus forming a chain.

As the world becomes ever more smarter and inter-connected, cryptocurrencies have become an increasingly attractive proposition for growing markets that may not have traditional banking infrastructure. Several developing third-world nations have implemented blockchain-based national currencies, and the technology is also used by several major charity projects to help those without bank accounts.

Blockchain also offers the possibility of creating a fraud-proof system for transacting exchanges. It therefore has potential for use outside of the digital currency sphere and is attracting interest among traditional financial institutions and elsewhere.

Blockchain FAQ How does Blockchain work? 

A blockchain system consists of two types of record, transactions and blocks. Transactions are simply the actions carried out in a particular period, these are stored together in a block.

What makes blockchain more unique is that each block contains the cryptographic hash of the previous one, thus forming a chain. What a cryptographic hash does is take the data from the previous block and transform it into a compact string. Since these strings are impossible to predict it means that any tampering with the chain is easily detected. 

This method means that blocks don’t need to have serial numbers, the hash allows them to be uniquely identified as well as verifying their integrity. Each block confirms the validity of the previous one right back to the so called ‘genesis block’ at the start of the chain.

The linking of blocks isn’t the only thing that keeps the chain secure, however. It’s also decentralised, each computer with the software installed has a copy of the blockchain which is constantly updated with new blocks. There is no centralised server holding the transactions and because each new block must meet the requirements of the chain nobody is able to overwrite previous transactions.

Other transaction requirements can be added to define what constitutes a valid entry. In Bitcoin for example a valid transaction has to be digitally signed, it has to spend one or more unspent outputs of previous transactions, and the sum of transaction outputs cannot exceed the sum of input

What are some of the biggest blockchain databases? 

Blockchain has exploded in popularity over the last few years, gaining backers throughout the technology and financial sectors.

Away from Bitcoin, which remains the most well-known and arguably most widely-used network, this has led to a number of alternative blockchains coming to the fore in recent times.

This includes R3, which is developing blockchain-esque technology that can be used by major banking institutions, and in May 2017 raised $107 million in funding from backers such as Intel, HSBC and Bank of America. 

Another major player is Hyperledger, an open-source cross-industry collaboration created by the Linux Foundation in order to popularise blockchain-based ledgers, with the first generation of its technology released in July 2017.

All the so-called ‘big four’ accounting firms have also said they are testing blockchain technologies, although so far only Ernst and Young have gone public with their technology, making a digital wallet available to all its Swiss employees.

IBM announced in March 2017 that it will be building its own ‘blockchain as a service’ offering based on Hyperledger, which will allow customers to build secure blockchain networks.

Earlier this year, the London Stock Exchange also revealed it was is set to start using blockchain to improve transparency for shareholding information among unlisted businesses, showing the impact the technology has had. 

How secure is blockchain? 

Due to its advanced cryptographic protection systems, Blockchain in theory offers a far more secure experience than traditional banking.

The fact that the technology is decentralised, and cannot be retroactively altered or edited makes it ideal for financial transactions and the storing of important information.

Blockchain also benefits from being able to preserve the privacy of the user - however this has unfortunately made it increasingly popular as the payment method of choice for cyber criminals, as a Bitcoin network node doesn’t have to reveal the identity of the person making or receiving payments.

What is Blockchain 2.0? 

As Blockchain grew and evolved, companies began to think of new applications for the technology. In 2014, ‘Blockchain 2.0’ became popularised as the umbrella term for this new ecosystem, which saw the technology being used for smarter and more advanced use cases that respond to certain triggers. 

For example invoices could be set to pay themselves automatically when goods are delivered, or smart contracts could trigger payments when parts of a project are completed.

Blockchain 2.0 has the potential to open up the technology for use in other industries beyond pure finance. In the music business, for example, blockchain 2.0 could be used in managing copyrights and collecting royalties from digital streaming and downloads. It could be employed for asset registers, managing things like property, vehicles or machinery and introducing the ability to charge accurately based on usage.

Blockchain resources

Blockchain charts - real-time information on the current market price, block size, daily transactions and more 

What is Blockchain Technology? A step-by-step guide to blockchain technology for beginners interested in using the system

IBM Blockchain - A repository of information on IBM’s work into blockchain technology 

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