How Blockchain Is Shaking The Global Payments System
First things first, let’s recap what blockchain actually is. Blockchain is a kind of database that gathers data in groups called blocks. All of these blocks have a fixed storage capacity, and, when filled, are chained onto an existing block to create a chain— i.e., the term blockchain.
A key feature of this is that, once a block has been filled, it is given an exact timestamp of when it was added to the blockchain. Every event that happens on it is recorded on a public ledger, which is essentially a record-keeping database that ensures the participants’ identities are kept secure and pseudo-anonymous. They can only be identified by private keys, which are strings of letters and numbers needed to make a blockchain transaction.
An example: Bitcoin
To demonstrate blockchain in action, it makes sense to look at the most famous example of a technology that uses one: Bitcoin. The cryptocurrency exists on a blockchain across thousands of computers worldwide, all operated by different groups of people. These computers are called ‘nodes’, each of which has a record of every transaction that has taken place on it.
This has many benefits, with perhaps the main one being that, if one node has an error in its data caused by a fraud attempt, the blockchain can reference the other nodes to correct the database. Consequently, every transaction is accountable, secure and irreversible, with no de-centralized organization being able to control things either.