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Blockchain is shifting the paradigms of our business world at a rapid rate. You may think understanding the tech is quite easy. But we know that there’s a good chance that you came across a lot of meaning that didn’t make much sense when you searched for blockchain glossary online.
Well, but not worry, the real blockchain definition is much easier to understand than you think. In reality, the new tech is actually changing the perspective of the digital world. As blockchain technology isn’t going anywhere, for now, it’s time to get to know the real definition of blockchain.
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Table of Contents
Chapter-1: Blockchain Definition: What Is It?
In reality, the technical blockchain definition would be like this –
Seems very techy, doesn’t it? Well, let us break it down for you.
At the very core, you could think of it as a chain of blocks. But here, the words “chain” and “block” represent a different thing.
In this context, the block represents digital information, and the chain represents how digital data is stored in the database/ledger.
Usually, digital pieces of information make up the “blocks” in the ledger. Furthermore, you have three main parts –
It will store the information about the blockchain transaction, such as time, date, amount, etc. However, now it can store various types of data formats such as documents, images, identities, etc.
In the block, it will store who is participating in the blockchain transaction. However, instead of using your real name, you will get a unique “digital key” as your username. Moreover, the blockchain will contain that username only.
Another significant fact is that every single block is different than other blocks. Kind of like how we have different names to identify ourselves. And so, the block will store a “hash,” which is a unique code that will help the system tell two blocks apart.
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Forming the Chain
Once everything is done, your block will need verification. Well, this is where it gets interesting. No one in the network can just randomly create a block and store it. In reality, other nodes will validate your data in the block, and if everything seems ok, they will give the green signal.
And only then it will be stored in the ledger. However, a block will be linked to the previous block when it’s stored in the ledger. And when another block comes along, it will also get linked to that one as well.
For example, you created a block “x,” and previously, there was a block “y.” So, when your “X” will get stored on the ledger, it will get linked to the “y.” Similarly, the block “y” will also store a link to the “x” block.
All of the links between the “blocks” creates a continuous chain-like structure. So, you see, this the real meaning of blockchain definition.
But Why Is Blockchain So Important?
The best way to describe why the blockchain definition is so important is to look into the system’s core structure. In reality, you know how everything is dependent on centralized servers. Furthermore, the limitations of the centralized servers are the sole reason behind the revolution of the blockchain.
And that’s why it’s really important to know about the blockchain definition. In reality, it does help to understand the tech better because the centralized structure isn’t doing very well.
But are centralized systems that limited?
Well, let’s see if they are.
Limitations of Centralized Systems
If you notice the digital world’s typical software aspect, you’ll see that most of those are based on a centralized structure. Typically it’s not because the architecture is really easy to maintain and develop. It’s because everyone is used to trusting other parties to safeguard their information.
Moreover, we depend on other parties that they aren’t cheating or scamming us with their products. In reality, you wouldn’t probably work with anyone you didn’t previously have any business with.
So, it becomes exceptionally hard to scale up or trade with someone without any prior business relationship.
Let us explain it with an example. Suppose that you ordered something through Amazon, but you feel assured that you are going to get the delivery, don’t you? However, in reality, Amazon isn’t the one that’s producing the item; it’s someone else.
Sometimes even other third parties sell those items. So, Amazon works as a buffer between that third party and yourself. Even though you may not know about them, but you will still trust them because of the Amazon tag.
However, what blockchain definition defines here is the “need for the third party for establishing trust.” With blockchain, you won’t need any third party; you can directly work with other businesses with full assurance even though you don’t trust them.
Thus, in a typical centralized system, there are many flaws, including:
- Can’t be fully trusted
- Doesn’t offer full security
- Isn’t concerned with privacy issues
- Takes up too much time and ultimately cost
- No transparency
Advantages of Blockchain over Typical Centralized System
- Gets rid of any intermediaries
- Verification of transactions
- High-security protocols
- Lower costs
- Transparent network system
- Immutable and decentralized
Look, I’m not saying that blockchain solves all the problems. In reality, blockchain also comes with some issues. However, do keep in mind that it does get rid of many of the centralized issues. Thus, it’s a great upgrade from centralized servers to decentralized ones.
Furthermore, there are many scenarios where the blockchain can make a solution more secure, transparent, and robust. However, blockchain is a complex architecture for networks. So, without fully gaining any knowledge about it, you shouldn’t make the jump.
But if you want to keep up with the technological revolution and scale up, it’s best to know about blockchain’s simple definition.
So, for these reasons, you need to know about the blockchain definition.
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Chapter-2: History of Blockchain Technology
Do you know when was the first time blockchain actually emerged? Well, back in 1991, Stuart Haber and Scott Stornettqo started working on the first blockchain technology. At first, they wanted to create a cryptographically encrypted block of chain. Moreover, they tried to make it tamper-proof.
Even then, they used timestamps of the documents to have a full track of all the transactions. Later on, they upgraded the system and included Merkle trees. Thus, it enhanced their ability to store more documents within a single block.
So, you see, even though many people think that the blockchain technology definition first came in 2018, it actually began in 1992. It’s absolutely necessary to know about the simple definition of blockchain fully.
Bitcoin changed the way how our system works, as it was a digital form of payment.
After the introduction to bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto finally released the Bitcoin whitepaper in 2009. Furthermore, in the whitepaper, he gave full details about how the network works. Moreover, it also indicates how it can enhance digital trust.
In reality, nobody would be in control, so nobody can break others’ trust. However, the rein of Satoshi Nakamoto came to an end when he handed the development of the platform to other developers and vanished.
In reality, even though Satoshi Nakamoto didn’t pursue the development of technology, other developers started to create more blockchain platforms slowly.
Moreover, with a decentralized application in the mix, the blockchain technology definition finally started to come to everyone’s notice.
Anyhow in 2010, finally, the first bitcoin online purchase happened. A user bought two pizzas with 10,000 BTC.
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This period in history was by far the most significant as the simple definition of blockchain. In reality, Bitcoin was an excellent start for blockchain, but many developers felt that it wasn’t enough for new innovation.
Among them was Vitalik Buterin, who contributed to the Bitcoin codebase. However, Bitcoin was drastically limited. So, the developer started to work on another solution that would be able to form various functions but still contain the peer-to-peer networking system.
At last, he came up with Ethereum in 2013 with new additions to the typical bitcoin codebase. Furthermore, it was a development that changed the ways of blockchain for good in a simple definition of blockchain history.
In the meantime, Bitcoin became so popular that it surpassed $1 Billion in the marketplace. Soon Vitalik released the Ethereum whitepaper. And the crowd sale started for funding. Anyhow during this definition of blockchain history period, Ethereum managed to get all the funding it needed.
Moreover, another popular enterprise blockchain consortium at present – R3, formed the consortium with 40+ legacy members. Needless to say, all three of the new innovations are still prevailing in the blockchain marketplace.
And this how blockchain technology definition came to be.
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In 2015, Ethereum officially launched and introduced a new feature called smart contracts. Furthermore, smart contracts became one of the leading features that could perform various contractual functions.
Anyhow, Ethereum managed to gather a massive community of active developers that are still establishing it as a true ecosystem.
Linux Foundation introduced Hyperledger and formed a consortium for the development of blockchain technology. So, they are a massive part of blockchain technology definition too. Furthermore, Hyperledger wanted to unite all the blockchain efforts in one space.
Moreover, Hyperledger promotes collaborations between companies instead of competition for enabling everyone to get their fair share of exposure. Furthermore, Hyperledger also introduced a new structure called modular architecture, which lets you plug in any kind of feature and use it.
So, even though your blockchain might not come with a feature that you need, you can just develop it manually and plug it into the system and use it.
Seeing the potential in enterprises, J.P. Morgan launched Quorum blockchain as an enterprise solution. The baseline of Quorum is actually Ethereum, but as Ethereum is public, it needed some tweaks.
Thus, now we have a private Quorum platform that the enterprise can use without any issues.
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In 2018, you’ll see the massive popularity of blockchain technology. However, the extremely volatile nature of Bitcoin made the marketplace shift towards the core technology from cryptocurrencies.
In reality, cryptocurrencies are great, but they tend to be highly volatile. So, it creates uncertainty in the marketplace, which is not something enterprise companies are looking for.
Another great fact in the blockchain technology definition timeline is the rise of financial companies using the network. At first, financial companies were highly skeptical as it loses their grip on centralized systems.
However, due to the benefits of the tech, now 15% of financial companies use it. And it’s on the rise. After the massive shift in use cases in the definition of blockchain, enterprises are now more than eager to use it.
According to a survey, 95% of companies are willing to invest in blockchain in 2018. And many of them are already investing millions in the niche.
At the end of 2018, the global blockchain business market stands at $1.2 billion.
At present, blockchain technology is massively being implemented in many enterprises, thanks to the blockchain as a service industry. In reality, blockchain as a service company offers a different kind of development environments for companies without any knowledge of blockchain.
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Why? Well, basically, the resources for developing a blockchain technology on its own is pretty scarce. As only a limited number of programmers can handle the complexity of the tech, many companies are taking their services.
However, as most of the leading enterprise blockchain platforms are open source, anyone can freely use it on their system. But for that, they would need development teams to help to add more features or help them integrate them.
Thus, the blockchain as service industries is rapidly evolving to accommodate all the needs better. We can safely say that we will continue to see more growth in this sector.
Also, due to ICO‘s legal issues, now most of them are replaced by Security Tokens. These are similar to ICOs but comes with legal backups. So, people who invest in ICOs won’t face any scams or fraudulent companies.
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2020 was a great year for blockchain technology. Many government facilities are looking into blockchain wallet and are investing money to implement it. More so, banks are eager to work on central bank digital currencies that will forever change the landscape of the world.
China revealed a fully functional CBDC model, which already comes with a featureful blockchain wallet. However, Facebook’s Libra is also on the way to complete this CBDC model.
In reality, many companies are not looking into the blockchain tutorial to learn more about the tech and start their very own project. Therefore, the demand for blockchain-based skills and tutorial is all-time high at the moment.
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The future of blockchain is quite bright. As you can see, the simple definition of blockchain timeline shows great promise. Moreover, it is estimated that the blockchain marketplace will exceed $3.1 trillion by the year 2030.
So, now is the time to secure a place in that massive market cap.
Chapter-3: Basic Features of Blockchain Technology
Immutability is undoubtedly one of the most significant blockchain features. It means that no blockchain developer or user can alter/delete the data in the ledger or add new content without any validation. This feature ensures immutability.
In reality, the blockchain transaction works slightly differently than any other financial company. As it does not have any centralized authority, it depends on the node within the network.
When a blockchain transaction happens, all the nodes in the network will have to say it’s valid or won’t get added to the ledger.
Moreover, when a block is added, it’s permanent. Thus, there’s no way of changing it or altering it.
Do you know that this feature of blockchain definition makes it corruption-free?
As most of the corruption comes from within an organization by altering the ledger, the scope for doing that is eliminated. Thus, it heavily fights back to crime.
In blockchain definition, you came across the word “decentralized.” But what does it imply? In reality, it means that there is no single person or governing authority that looks over the framework. But in a typical network structure, everything heavily depends on the client-server model.
But here, a single person or group looks after the whole infrastructure. This is one of the significant benefits every blockchain developer should look for. It promotes user rights. Thus, it offers more benefits in the end –
- Gets rid of human-made errors, so it’s more fault-tolerant.
- More control for users over their properties.
- Highly secure because it’s more expensive, more hackers to stack the system.
- Gets rid of all third-party integrations.
- No chance of being scammed as the system runs entirely on algorithms.
- Every change is reviewed by the nodes, which promotes transparency.
- Introduces an authentic architecture, so people would have a hard time cracking the code and attacking it.
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Well, it gets rid of the central authority, but that does not mean that anyone can do anything they want. That would be a severe risk to every node. In reality, to promote privacy and security, all the data on the ledger is heavily encrypted.
Here, in blockchain definition, a term called cryptography is heavily mentioned. In reality, cryptography is one of the complex mathematical algorithms out there. Thus, it serves as the firewall for the network.
There’s no way to crack the code. Furthermore, if anyone wants to change any value in the block, it will generate a completely different outcome that won’t be linked to the original change. Additionally, every block comes with a unique hash ID. However, changing the hash ID is impossible.
Also, to make a blockchain transaction, you’ll need help from both public and private keys. Figuring out other users’ private keys is also impossible.
Another cool feature of blockchain is the distributed nature of the system. In reality, all the nodes maintain the ledger, and so the overall computational power gets distributed among them. Thus, promoting a good outcome.
In the case of the public blockchain, everyone can see the ledger without any issues. However, in private, things change a bit, but still, it’s viewable. Due to the nature of the technology, it’s more efficient and offers other benefits as well –
- High response time for any malicious activity because any change in the ledger is detectable relatively faster. So, it’s easy to track what’s the issue.
- The nodes act as the verifiers, and so it offers them a role of participation.
- It gets rid of any favors in the network. And so, everyone will get an equal amount of privileges in the system.
The consensus is a crucial factor when it comes to blockchain. Without consensus, the blockchain system won’t work. In reality, the consensus algorithms help the network make decisions. Without any consensus, no blockchain can make a fair judgment of the blocks being added.
If we explain it more simply, it’s just a process of decision making for the nodes on the network. Well, when millions of nodes are on the same network, it becomes absolutely necessary to have a consensus.
Because in reality, not all people can come to the same conclusion on their own. For more clarity, think of it as a voting process where the majority will win.
At present, there are many types of consensus algorithms. However, each comes with different kinds of pros and cons.
Anyhow, to keep a network running, the blockchain developer needs to implement some kind of consensus algorithm.
Well, blockchain does let you transact on the network, even though now it offers a lot more than that. In reality, blockchain provides a faster outcome in settlements. And so, you will get to transfer money faster.
We think you already know that traditional banking networks are relatively slower. Many times it takes up too much time to settle the payment. However, in times of need sending money from overseas could take up a lot of time.
Thus, it creates a big issue. But with blockchain, it would only take a few seconds to get the money. So, it’s super beneficial to use. However, the blockchain developer needs to make sure that the transaction time isn’t compromised at any cost.
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Chapter-4: Blockchain Technology Definition: What Are the Different Types?
To better understand the blockchain technology definition, you need to know about the different types of blockchain at present.
If we can classify the blockchain, then it would be based on two different scenarios. Typically in the general classification, we get four types of blockchain –
And based on permission-level classification, we get two types–
It’s an absolute necessity to know about these for blockchain technology companies. Because with the new integration in enterprises, blockchain technology companies would have to foresee which one is the best suited for the industries.
Anyhow, let’s check them out now!
In the private blockchain, you’ll see only a single organization in the network. Basically, a single organization can select who is free to join the network and who can’t. Doesn’t seem like all that decentralized now, does it?
In reality, the core value of blockchain is still intact. However, in this one, the blockchain technology companies will get a governing system as well. Furthermore, this is mainly suited as the internal network of an enterprise.
The issue is that public blockchains are great, but they have an open ledger for everyone to see. In a competitive marketplace, the need for privacy is quite high. And so, public platforms will not suit in this case.
All the other basic purposes are still there – security, distributed ledger, etc. Moreover, it’s a low power consumption platform than public ones.
Well, public blockchains are the pioneer of blockchain definition. In this one, the blockchain technology companies will get full freedom. In reality, it means that anyone and everyone is free to join the network. There would be no restrictions whatsoever.
So, it means that here you will get the taste of true decentralization. But the issue is with privacy. In the case of using this tech in blockchain technology companies, it might cause a lot of issues.
As the public ledger is open for all, anyone can see it. Thus, compromising the whole network base. However, this platform is a lot safer than private ones. Also, it’s fully transparent and promotes user empowerment.
An enterprise could use this tech to power any network that lets its consumers interact without affecting its internal network system.
Federated or Consortium blockchain technology is more or less the best of both worlds. However, in this case, you’ll see that it’s a bit close to private blockchains. In reality, the federated blockchain is a decentralized private network.
Well, let me explain. You already know how a single organization can actually maintain a private network. But in federated, multiple organizations will take part in the governance. So, it will finally promote the decentralized nature of the blockchain.
Federate networks are highly popular among blockchain technology companies. With the use of this network, many blockchain technology applications can cut their cost. Moreover, you will also see more regulation on the blockchain technology applications.
Regulations make sure that no one can abuse the network for any illegal purposes. Moreover, this type also promotes low transaction fees compared to others.
Hybrid is kind of similar to federated blockchain, but they are surely different. In this case, Hybrid blockchain also uses the best of both worlds. However, here, it would indicate freedom and controlled access at the same time.
Hybrid blockchains are not open for everyone, but they offer the same level of transparency, security, and integrity. In reality, the network is highly customizable. Moreover, the members in the system can decide which users can take participation and which can’t.
Furthermore, they can also decide which transaction they need to make public. Usually, blockchain technology applications can use this tech when they are working with multiple stakeholders at once.
Typically, in these blockchain technology applications, the transactions aren’t public property. But for verification, they can be made public domain. But it’s limited to only verification.
In this type of blockchain, the network stays within a closed environment. In short, it would mean that the nodes would need permission to enter the network. Here, previously, some selected nodes can only enter.
Typically, centralized industries prefer this type of blockchain technology applications because they can at least restrict other users.
On the other hand, permissioned public blockchain ensures that all the nodes fitting criteria can enter, and then they are free to see the ledger and make transactions. Similar to public ones.
In this network, all the nodes can participate in the verification process. So, there is no restriction of any kind. Moreover, everyone in the network can transact or add information to the ledger. Blockchain technology applications that come with a more open environment will definitely like this one.
On the other hand, there are permissionless private networks. In this one, users would have to belong to an organization that has access to the network. Mainly here, access is solely specified. So, everyone within a private network will get access as a node.
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Chapter-5: Popular Use Cases of Blockchain Technology
Blockchain technology happens to thrive in the financial sector at present. Well, why not? The underlying blockchain meaning started out with it being a financial instrument. In reality, the use of blockchain technology instead of a centralized banking system gets rid of most of the flaws.
Also, with blockchain now cross border payments would be a breeze. Furthermore, many financial enterprises can get a massive boost with the help of this new tech. IBM’s World Wire is a leading example of this case.
Trade finance is also another great addition to the use cases list. Every year a lot of goods are shipped with the help of trade companies. But the trade finance deals with many complications, including lack of transparency, security, etc.
So, to have full control over the system, they can use blockchain. A popular example of this would be TradeLens. Furthermore, this technology allows traders to communicate with each other better.
More so, it enables the receiver to track the process and the sender to get the payment in time.
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Another exciting use case behind the blockchain meaning would be Food Safety. In reality, processed foods tend to have a lot of unethical ingredients. But there’s no way of knowing what the industries are using.
Using blockchain, the companies can track where their produce is coming from. Aloes, the consumers can track whether their product is what they genuinely say. Here, IBM’s Food Trust is one of the prominent examples.
Well, the supply chain is truly one of the best use cases for blockchain. Using the tech in the supply chain, the companies would get an extremely secure environment for the supply chain that promotes real-time tracking.
Furthermore, it can offer smart contract data validation processes and will enforce agreements. Moreover, it can also figure out any corrupted behavior within the system. Anyhow, the cost-cutting and increasing revenue definitely make it worthy of mentioning in blockchain meaning.
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Counterfeit is the most prominent issue in the Retail department. And blockchain can quickly fix that issue. As you know, the retail companies have tried their best to fight off the problem but had little progress.
With blockchain, anything getting logged on the ledger will stay there for good. So, if any internal party wants to steal those, he would have to change the ledger, which he can’t.
Thus, no internal party can change the products. Moreover, every single product coming from the manufacturer will have an RFID tag. So, the authority would be able to track the missing products in no time.
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Governmental institutions are really in a bad situation with all the corruption in the mix. In reality, with this much vast network to monitor, things get overlooked. Furthermore, the government can’t fulfill all of the duties to the citizens properly, which is creating more rift between both parties.
Here, blockchain meaning fits perfectly. It can help the government to be a paperless community and get rid of any corruption.
Also, being able to have a faster output will help massively in fulfilling citizen rights.
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Intellectual property management is a mess right now. In reality, there’s no real tracking system that can figure out if anyone is using other persons’ work as their own or not.
There is a patenting scheme, but still, that’s not helping to secure the intellectual properties in any way.
Thus, all the musicians, designers, inventors, and artists aren’t getting the pay or credit they deserve.
However, blockchain can genuinely change this industry for good. As it can track whenever another person is using it and giving the authentic artist the credit he/she deserves.
Healthcare is an excellent industry for blockchain technology to bloom. Every year, many of the healthcare companies spend a huge amount of money on the improvement of the sector.
However, the outcome is minimal.
But with blockchain, things would change. In reality, it can offer the data transparency the healthcare sector needs right now. Also, it can provide a great deal of security in patient-doctor confidential documentations.
The FDA is already using blockchain for many reasons.
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Oil and Gas
Well, the Oil and Gas industry is a huge contributor to today’s marketplace. However, they have an issue in the freight payment and auditing sector. The issue is that there’s no proper tracking and no proper planning to execute a more efficient outcome.
But with blockchain, things would change. It can improve efficiency in taking every possible route into account and selecting the best possible way. According to Accenture, the industry can just increase their revenue by 5% by only improving the accuracy of the data.
In reality, the real estate market is hugely volatile. As the days go by, the need for real estate is increasing. But with the increasing prices, the middle class is staying out of the benefits. So, the industry suffers from inaccessibility, massive costs, and no liquidity.
But with blockchain in the middle, they can finally balance it out. Furthermore, blockchain can help manage the liquidity issue and keep the industry from being volatile.
Many countries are already implementing a blockchain solution for this reason.
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The humanitarian industry was created for the sake of helping the people who need it. However, now, with corruption, the sector is utterly doomed. Many of the donations in the system are left unchecked. So, no one can tell if a donation did make it to the poor without being in the pockets of the corrupted persons.
But with blockchain, now anyone making a donation can track the donation to ensure that the money did save someone’s life. Also, it will help to figure out which persons are truly corrupted.
The issue in the insurance industry is the overwhelming paperwork. In reality, anyone in this industry would know just how much paperwork an insurer needs to deal with. Not to mention the daily false claims makes it even worse.
All of these factors actually make real people suffer, as everything is extremely slow. But with the help of blockchain technology, the industry can easily figure out if a claim is false or not.
Furthermore, it can also make the industry a completely paperless one with everything being done online.
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Media and Entertainment
The media and entertainment sectors deal with a lot of unfairness. Due to the internet, now everyone is exposed to the entertainment business. But the hard truth is that the artists don’t get the value they deserve most of the time.
In many scenarios, due to the negative outcomes, many talented artists have given up. But with the help of blockchain, all the wrongs can be right from now on.
Moreover, the blockchain will maintain all the records of who did what and ensure that the artists got proper credit.
Blockchain can revolutionize how the travel industry processes passengers. In reality, it takes up a lot of time to process every single passenger, which costs a lot of time and effort. On the other hand, many fugitives can forge their passports and make a run for it as there is no way of tracing it.
But with blockchain, all the passenger information could be in the secure ledger. Thus, the passenger won’t even need a passport for travel. They can just simply use digital IDs and get aboard. So, blockchain meaning truly changes the way people travel now.
Blockchain can be the network solution for any industry at present. It has the features to get rid of all the legacy network issues fully. Moreover, it can also promote automated solutions and data integrity.
Also, with the help of an immutable ledger, it will become a simple task to just trust its contents as no one can truly change how it works.
Another cool blockchain use cases would be the gaming sector. In reality, it’s blooming at a massive rate. Many online games are hacked in many cases, and many times, gamers lose the assets they bought with money.
But as the blockchain is a secure platform, no one would be able to hack into the system and alter get their hands on anyone’s assets.
Cyber Security and the Internet of Things
Both these sectors go perfectly with the idea of blockchain. Because of the legacy networks, the typical cybersecurity measures aren’t enough to safeguard them. But with the help of blockchain, they can secure it fully.
On the other hand, Internet of Things devices is also prone to hacks. But if the blockchain is the underlying network, the hacker won’t get access to the system. So, everyone using IoT would be safe. Even in times of DDoS attacks, the blockchain can secure the network.
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Chapter-6: Concluding Thoughts
In the end, we can safely say that blockchain is not going anywhere for some time now. As you can see, it’s here to stay. So, it would be best to get ahold of the blockchain definition as fast as you can. In reality, even though many of now may not see any changes in day-to-day life, but adoption is at large.
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*Disclaimer: The article should not be taken as, and is not intended to provide any investment advice. Claims made in this article do not constitute investment advice and should not be taken as such. 101 Blockchains shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person who relies on this article. Do your own research!