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A Blockchain, which was originally spelled as two words, block chain, is a distributed ledger/database. It contains a growing list of records called blocks. Every block is time-stamped and is linked to the previous block. Blockchains are designed to record data in a manner impervious to alteration once it is created. It cannot be changed or manipulated in retrospect. In general a Blockchain is a distributed ledger that is open. This ledger keeps track of transactions between parties in a permanent fashion. Some transactions may be automatic. Blockchains are well suited for financial transactions, medical and legal records, property rights, identity security, deeds, etc. Blockchains have the potential to change the world.
In 2008 Satoshi Nakamoto developed the first Blockchain which led to the creation of the digital currency called Bitcoin. Nakamoto’s experiment with the Blockchain protocol solved the riddle of the “double spend” problem (without using a middleman) which had plagued programmers for years.The history of Blockchain technology dates back to the 1990’s but cryptographers were still searching for secure solutions. But the Blockchain used for Bitcoin has now become the gold standard and has inspired others that are being called Blockchain 2.0, which go beyond the internet of money and include smart contracts that create invoices that execute themselves. They also can be used for intellectual property rights, musical and artistic creations, legal records, property rights management, scientific discoveries, votes, deeds, etc. The Blockchain allows for secure online transactions. Blockchains allow for the internet of value rather than the internet of information. They allow for peer-to-peer transactions. A decentralized Blockchain tends to lead to more of a secure network. Open Blockchains are user-friendly.
So some people think the Blockchain is a foundational technology… while others feel it’s a disruptive technology. In any case, the genie is out of the bottle and it all depends on how you look at it. I believe that the Blockchain and the new internet of value are here to stay. The Harvard Business Review describes the Blockchain as a distributed database or ledger that is open to all. There are now over 700 digital currencies that relay on Blockchain technology. Some of them will come and go. But banks do not want to lose the upper hand when it comes to financial matters. Therefore many banks are exploring their own Blockchains and digital currencies because they don’t want to lose customers. On the other hand, there are millions of unbanked people in the world. They often do not have enough money to open up a bank account or may live too far away from a bank. Digital currencies like Bitcoin has proved very popular in these countries.
Another benefit of digital currencies is that they can be stored on a phone or computer. Money from digital wallets can be sent for example by an immigrant domestic worker in Canada back to her mother in the Phillipines within minutes with reduced fees compared to a “Western Union” type remittance service that charges anywhere between 10 -15% plus it’s slower.
In a time when internet hacking, identity theft, spam, and phishing are major issues (not to mention a regular thief who robs your house or a pickpocket who lifts your wallet in a crowd)… Satoshi’s Bitcoin Blockchain is the safest and most secure because it is the longest. It is protected by users and miners. The miners have a huge stake in protecting that particular Blockchain because they are rewarded when they figure out and solve the secret puzzle of each block.They also have huge electric bills to mine the coins and they invested in very expensive software to do it. So those miners are very committed to the Bitcoin Blockchain in particular. It would take a tremendous amount of electricity to even attempt to hack the Bitcoin Blockchain. Therefore, hackers are more likely to go after smaller and less secure Blockchains. That’s why I stake my claim on Bitcoin and the Bitcoin Blockchain!!