Last year was when most of the non-nerdy world woke up to Crypto-Currency and Blockchain. For the most part this was thanks to the fact that Bitcoin was on a tear and was doubling in value every few weeks!
Blockchain is the fundamental technology which makes crypto-currencies possible. Blockchain essentially stores all data in the form of blocks. These blocks are connected in the form of a chain. These blockchains are further stored on every computer on the network. This makes it near impossible to fake a transaction. The primary reason for this being that the fake transaction would have to be entered into every system on the network! These are called distributed ledgers.
While crypto-currencies seem like a great application of blockchain, there are fundamental issues in there. It is great that the ledger is distributed but what if I am able to get hold of your password? I can steal everything that is in your wallet and there is complete anonymity. So apart from knowing that the currency has been stolen and to which address it was transferred you would know nothing.
This just makes crypto-currencies a poor application in their current form. But blockchain has a lot more to it. It can be used to store any kind of data that needs to be immutable such as property documents, certificates, shares, etc.
The trouble has been that all of these solutions need to be implemented at a systemic level.
It is heartening to see some of these implementations take root in different parts of the world.
A bank uses blockchain to store data
A blockchain company called Coinfirm has announced a partnership with PKO BP, a major Polish bank, to provide blockchain-based document verification using a tool called Trudatum. The project is a an actual implementation of one of the primary benefits of blockchain-based tools, namely its ability to permanently and immutably store data. This announcement brings blockchain implementations out of the realm of proof-of-concept and into the real world.
Exchanges using blockchain as a risk mitigation tool
The Indian Factoring Exchanges – A.TREDs, RXIL and M1xchange – have launched a blockchain-based networking platform which aims to prevent financial frauds and double invoicing issues.
Banks using blockchain to secure and track international transfers
Blockchain boosters rejoice: A major bank is using the distributed-ledger technology that makes bitcoin possible for international payments of fiat currency. Santander, which had been testing it internally among its staff, launched the service today, making the Spanish banking giant among the few major financial institutions to go live with the extraordinarily hyped technology.
Now, countries are getting in on using crypto-currencies as a way of trading their most valuable exports
Venezuela, the world’s second-largest crude oil producer, is learnt to have offered a 30% discount on India’s petroleum imports from there—but only if payments are made using the cryptocurrency backed by that country’s government.