It goes without saying that record-keeping has a vital role in history. Many religions, practices, and beliefs have vanished just because they were passed down orally rather than stored in a written format like Christianity or Hinduism, which still prevail due to written records. But today, there is a new system of digital record keeping that is revolutionizing our society as we know it. Yes, it is none other than Blockchain!
‘Blockchain’ is a network of several computers around the world that store information electronically in digital format so as to ensure its permanency and fidelity. The information cannot be modified or compromised since doing so would require breaking into every computer, which is currently impossible even for the best hackers in the world. Thus, it enhances the integrity of the records as it is practically impenetrable by anyone.
The use of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin has been made possible only by the invention of such technology as blockchain. Before crypto, we had money either in the form of hard cash or stored in a bank. But ever since the digitization of the economy, we have started using hard cash only for small petty payments. Being a digital currency, the ownership and transactions of cryptocurrency are recorded on the blockchain itself. A lot of people are leaning towards crypto as its use is fast, cheap, untraceable and by cutting out the middlemen, it allows them to easily make small payments on the internet. On the other hand, processing payments through banks is quite time-consuming and expensive.
Privacy is also a huge concern for individuals in this digital era. Blockchain tech can be used to decentralize messaging and cloud computing, implying that one will be able to send a message to anyone without the use of intermediaries such as Whatsapp, Facebook, or Gmail. Another advantage is that It can be used in modern-day voting apps which will be more secure, cheaper, and less prone to corruption and malpractices.
Blockchain also removes human involvement and reduces costs in the transfer of assets like real estate, bonds, etc. All the information related to the assets such as penalties and interest generated (if any) will be stored on the blockchain and transferred when the transaction occurs, without the requirement of much paperwork. Even complex business arrangements can be encoded on the blockchain.
Keeping these points in mind, there’s a great possibility that blockchain tech will do the work of bankers, lawyers, administrators, and registrars to a much higher standard for a fraction of the price.
But just like life, blockchain too has its ups and downs. Bitcoin has facilitated the rapid increase in trading of goods and services in the black market because of its untraceable nature. Unfortunately, this has promoted the use of the dark web for the illegal selling of goods and services through the internet. Moreover, the data in a blockchain is immutable and cannot be removed. Once a person uses a blockchain he or she cannot remove the data, thus violating the right to privacy of a person.
Blockchains are not as scalable as their counterpart centralized systems. This means that as more people and more nodes join the network, the chances of slowing down of the network increase and the transactions become slow. Blockchain may be more secure than other platforms but they are still very prone to attacks. For example, if an entity could somehow possess 51% of the nodes on the network, then it can modify the data entered into the blockchain.
The long and the short of it is that this new technology is about to change the way we interact online. The revolution will not be televised, it will be cryptographically time-stamped on the blockchain. And the blockchain, originally devised to solve the conundrum of digital cash, could prove to be something much more significant!