Blockchain Revolution: How Crypto is Changing the World
- What is blockchain and how does it work?
- The evolution of blockchain
- How does the blockchain revolution affect me?
- Blockchain revolutionising finance?
- Should I get involved in cryptocurrencies?
- What other cryptocurrencies are fuelling the revolution?
- Lex Exchange: A trusted platform
- The future of blockchain
Late 2017, Bitcoin began its meteoric rise, fuelling an explosion of fevered speculation. People rushed in to invest in something which they had little knowledge of. When the market dipped and the gold rushers started to jump ship, those that had a deeper understanding of the coin held strong. They understood that Bitcoin was just the tip of an extremely sophisticated iceberg.
Two years later, it looks like they were right. Blockchain, the innovative technology that most cryptocurrencies use, is providing solutions to problems that have plagued individuals and businesses in a society that, more and more, exists in the online world. So what is cryptocurrency, and how will blockchain change the way we use money and do business around the world? Explore the answers, as we introduce you to the Blockchain revolution.
What is blockchain and how does it work?
At its simplest, we can explain Blockchain technology as a series of time-stamped data entries (the blocks) that are linked together by the chain, allowing information to be stored. This hardly sounds revolutionary, until we consider the fact that the data is not stored in any one place. Rather, it is managed by a network of computers, each of which need to be in agreement for any new information to be recorded in a block. The blockchain can be viewed and scrutinized by anyone in the world, and without a centralised master copy, it is far less likely to be tampered with or hacked.
Even the world’s most secure institutions, such as international banks and government agencies, have come under attack in recent years. Moreover, data breaches have allowed criminals to access sensitive information which they have used to steal user identities.
With blockchain-based services, records and financial services are vastly more secure. This is one of the major factors fueling blockchain adoption by companies and governments all over the world. As Don and Alex Tapscott assert in their book Blockchain Revolution, “the blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions, but virtually everything of value”.
The evolution of blockchain
It is a common misconception that there is only one blockchain. In fact, there are many different types of blockchains that have been developed to service different groups that require varied levels of efficiency and transparency.
First, there are public blockchains, which include the likes of Bitcoin and Ethereum, undoubtedly the most widely known of the cryptocurrencies. They are designed to be fully decentralised, meaning full transparency and the ability for anyone to participate as a user, miner, developer or community member. Those who maintain the network by verifying transactions are rewarded with tokens in the currency they mine. This process of verification is called mining. Initially, it was an easy way to earn cryptocurrency until the computing processing power needed to mine became too resource-intensive and energy costs came to outweigh the gains.
A private blockchain is what the name implies: a blockchain that not everyone can access and edit. Often, private blockchains are used by financial services that need to shield sensitive data from the general public. Only certain people are given authentication to interact with the network, and there may be a centralized component. Tokens may be used on private blockchains, but they are not necessary, as businesses lease the blockchain from a developer and pay the associated costs.
Lastly, there are hybrid networks that combine features of both the public and private blockchains. It is often businesses that use hybrid networks and can choose what to make transparent and or keep private.
The reason blockchains continue to be developed and used is because they work. What’s more, they are becoming easier to create. Back in 2017, IBM launched its IBM Blockchain, based on Hyperledger Fabric from the Linux Foundation. With this blockchain-as-a-service, any business or agency can create their own blockchain tailored to their specific operational and security requirements. Within the last year, dozens of other examples of blockchain at work in mainstream business have appeared everywhere from Microsoft and JP Morgan to Burger King.
Clearly, blockchain is more than Bitcoin. Blockchain’s capabilities extend much further, as we’ll continue to explore in the next section.
How does the blockchain revolution affect me?
At the moment, blockchain adoption is still in its early stages. As we’ve seen, however, it already has some big-name names involved, such as Microsoft, IBM, and FedEx, that are pushing it further into the mainstream. Now, we’re seeing blockchain coming into play in large and small ways, everywhere from finance to healthcare. An HSBC branch in China recently sent a letter of credit transaction using the Voltron blockchain with the aim of reducing processing times and costs. Over in Brazil, a baby born on September 1st had its details recorded using blockchain technology. In bypassing the registry office, the parents were able to register their baby in 5 minutes, with a document that can’t be lost or altered. And Starbucks is now using blockchain technology to track the farms from which their coffee beans are harvested, both to ensure product quality and to ensure fair trade.
Across the world, we’re seeing blockchain become the infrastructure of choice in the storage and transferral of medical records, customer loyalty programs, digital IDs, real estate and even voting. At this rate, what two years ago was a novelty technology could well become as ubiquitous as personal computers and smartphones within the next decade.
Blockchain revolutionising finance
While using cryptocurrencies as an investment is indeed worthwhile, the main reason many cryptocurrencies have been invented is as practical alternatives to non-digital or fiat currencies. Cryptocurrencies make moving money, especially internationally, a much quicker, simpler and cheaper process.
If you have ever conducted business, sent money to friends or family in another country, or simply travelled to a destination that uses a different currency, you will know the traps out there to wrangle extra dollars from you. In the past, currency exchanges, banks and international money transfer businesses could always charge high commission and handling fees knowing that consumers had few alternatives. Through blockchain technology, control is being taken away from these institutions and put back into the public domain.
With digital wallets, money can be exchanged through cryptocurrencies as an intermediary and send to anyone with an internet connection anywhere in the world. While banks take 3-4 days to lodge a secure transfer, some blockchain services offer full receipt of funds within minutes. Furthermore, without an intermediary, fees are much lower. The data that shows the transfer is recorded in a block that both parties can see but neither can change. This makes disputes over transactions a thing of the past.
Should I get involved in cryptocurrencies?
Hopefully, the preceding information has given you a sense of just how innovative blockchain is. Cryptocurrencies are just the beginning of a new tech revolution that is taking place right now. Most people who witnessed last year’s Bitcoin crash are wary of cryptocurrencies. However, it is important to remember that this volatility was over a relatively short period. From Bitcoin’s public release in 2008, when it was worth a fraction of a dollar, it saw a consistent and steady rise upwards as speculators jumped on board. In the last 9 months, it has steadily been rising again.
What other cryptocurrencies are fuelling the revolution?
At the time of publishing, there are over 2,300 cryptocurrencies. Many of the projects behind them have hopes to become the next major investment token while others, such as the Trump Coin, are simply novelty items. In addition to Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Ripple, Stellar, and Ethereum are among top-traded assets and can be found on most major exchanges.
Ether, in particular, is an especially strong challenger to Bitcoin and the Bitcoin blockchain. With Microsoft using Ethereum blockchain services, it is quite obvious that Ether is something more than the flash in the pan crypto skeptics were hoping for. For a more detailed review of the many cryptocurrencies linked to services across the tech sphere, check out our Q3 review.
Every altcoin offers a unique combination of features that serve to meet specific crypto needs. A coin that’s right for a trader looking for a solid long-term investment won’t suit a trader eager to make a high-stakes trade with a more volatile coin. Other coins cater specifically to those who especially value anonymity (here, Dash is a solid choice), while someone who makes frequent cross-border payments may opt for a coin like Stellar.
Lex Exchange: A trusted platform
Buying and selling crypto assets is facilitated by crypto trading platforms. Finding a trustworthy exchange is a critical first step for any crypto activity. Lex Exchange is an Australian-owned and operated platform that provides traders a high-value, secure entry point to the rapidly expanding crypto marketplace. This platform offers a selection of 18+ top crypto coins, and new ones are added regularly.
As an Australian company, it operates in line with all the regulatory requirements for exchanges, ensuring transparency and security. Lex Exchange also offers the ability to exchange Australian dollars for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, a feature that isn’t found on many international platforms.
The future of blockchain
With so many new and exciting blockchain partnerships, the future of blockchain appears boundless. While it is well known that blockchain is the vehicle for Bitcoin, blockchain is also helping to drive efficiencies and accountability in financial, medical, business and even governmental sectors. By getting involved in the blockchain revolution, you are not only investing in a rapidly growing asset, you are also supporting an industry that is quickly changing the world as we know it.