So what exactly is blockchain?

If you’re a modern criminal, chances are, you’ve already used blockchain to buy guns, sell drugs or even launder money. However, institions such as UNICEF have a different view, they beleive that blockchain can be used for the good to help the most poverty stricken people in the world. 

  1. A global online database

Anyone can access this technology, anywhere in the world, as long as they have an internet connection. Unlike other databases, ran by central figures such as banks or governments, blockchain has no owner. It is looked after by an entire network who cheats the system, through faking documents and transactions, gaining information is near impossible. 

2. A place to store information 

All information is stored permentantly across a network of personal computers. This means that the information is decentralised and is distributed. 

Blockchain currently has millions of users, and therefore it is near impossible for anyone to take over the network single handedly. Many of the people who run the system use their own personal computers to hold vast records submitted by others. It is these records which are known as blocks, hence the term blockchain. All of these blocks are timestamped and linked to a previous block chronologically. These blocks can be viewed and added to, but the existing information cannot be changed. This is enforced using cryptography 

4. A network for bitcoin transactions 

Bitcoin is one of blockchains most famous applications, a digital currency which is created and held electronically which can be sent to anyone. Bitcoin provides anonymity, because unlike other forms of payments there are no middle men. Money is then transferred as individuals validate others bitcoin transactions. The blockchain verifies the ownership of this digital cash and making sure that only one person is claiming it as there own at one time. 

5. Bankers investments 

Blockchain can help investment banks save between $8bn-12bn a year. 

6. The issues associated with blockchain 

Blockchain lowers the barriers to entry into the banking industry, which explains why finntech start ups are popping up in almost every market they operate in. If banks and companies fail to keep up, then they place their own survival at risk. 

7. Blockchain and its consumers 

For the consumer, blockchain can have potentially promising consequences, these include more security, less cost and better experiences. 

8. Blockchain and poverty

For example, take a farmer whose greatest asset is his plot of land, this land is then flooded and the copy of the deed to his land is washed away. He may have an alternative copy on a government database but this has been erased, altered or destroyed in a political coup. If the deed to the land however, was filed on a blockchain, he could avoid the loss of his land. 

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