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Blockchain: more than NFT’s and cryptocurrency

Blockchain may be widely associated with cryptocurrency but it’s now a key foundation of business industry and government operations.

Blockchain solutions are increasingly being used as a core backbone to support supply chains, healthcare, government, retail, media and advertising, oil and gas, telecoms, manufacturing, insurance, financial services, travel and transportation.

The UK currently has 249 high-growth companies developing blockchain software and services. Leaders include: Tech Alchemy, Binary Mango, Heveloon ltd, Silverchip, Studio Graphene, Chimpare, blockproof, TEC DIGITAL, That Product Studio, árda.works, Wealax, Aegasis Labs and Fueled. Worldwide, leading blockchain companies include: Blockchain.com, Elliptic, Zamna, Adhara, Argo Blockchain, Everledger and Travala.com.

Blockchain is a distributed database or ledger that is shared among the nodes of a computer network. As a database, a blockchain stores information electronically in digital format. Blockchains are best known for their crucial role in cryptocurrency systems for maintaining a secure and decentralized record of transactions. The innovation with a blockchain is that it guarantees the fidelity and security of a record of data and generates trust without the need for a trusted third party.

One key difference between a typical database and a blockchain is how the data is structured. A blockchain collects information together in groups known as blocks that hold sets of information. Blocks have certain storage capacities and, when filled, are closed and linked to the previously filled block, forming a chain of data known as the blockchain. All new information that follows that freshly added block is compiled into a newly formed block that will then also be added to the chain once filled.

A database usually structures its data into tables, whereas a blockchain, as its name implies, structures its data into chunks (blocks) that are strung together. This data structure inherently makes an irreversible timeline of data when implemented in a decentralized nature. When a block is filled, it is set in stone and becomes a part of this timeline. Each block in the chain is given an exact timestamp when it is added to the chain.

Blockchain is a shared database that differs from a typical database in the way that it stores information; blockchains store data in blocks that are then linked together via cryptography. As new data comes in, it is entered into a fresh block. Once the block is filled with data, it is chained onto the previous block, which makes the data chained together in chronological order.

Different types of information can be stored on a blockchain, but the most common use so far has been as a ledger for transactions. In Bitcoin’s case, blockchain is used in a decentralized way so that no single person or group has control—rather, all users collectively retain control.

Decentralized blockchains are immutable, which means that the data entered is irreversible. For Bitcoin, this means that transactions are permanently recorded and viewable to anyone.

The aim is to allow digital information to be recorded and distributed but not edited. In this way a blockchain is the foundation for immutable ledgers, or records of transactions that cannot be altered, deleted, or destroyed. This is why blockchains are also known as a distributed ledger technology (DLT).

First proposed as a research project in 1991 the blockchain concept predated its first widespread application, Bitcoin cryptocurrency in 2009. In the years since, use has exploded via the creation of cryptocurrencies, decentralized finance (DeFi) applications, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and smart contracts.

A blockchain allows the data held in that database to be spread out among several network nodes at various locations. This not only creates redundancy but also maintains the fidelity of the data stored therein—if somebody tries to alter a record at one instance of the database, the other nodes would not be altered and thus would prevent a bad actor from doing so.

If one user interferes with Bitcoin’s record of transactions all other nodes will cross-reference each other and quickly pinpoint the node with the incorrect information. This system helps to establish an exact and transparent order of events. This way no single node within the network can alter information held within it.

Blockchain information and history are irreversible. Such a record could be a list of transactions such as with a cryptocurrency but it also is possible for a blockchain to hold a variety of other information like legal contracts, state identifications, or a company’s product inventory.

Thirty years after it was first launched it’s no longer a question of if business and industry will catch on to the technology it’s a matter of when. Coming years will see significant growth in the use of blockchain technologies.

CTS The industrialisation of IT
CTS - Industrialisation of IT
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