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What is blockchain, where is it used, and will it become mainstream?
These are just some of the questions on the lips of the public as the word—and cryptocurrency in general—are becoming more widely used.
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But if you're new to the idea of blockchain, it can seem a tricky concept to get your head around. With this in mind, we recently sat down with Dr. Ying-Ying Hsieh, Assistant Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Imperial College Business School, to talk about blockchain and its applications in cryptocurrency and beyond.
Here are her confusion-busting answers to some of the public's most common questions.
1. What is blockchain?
Blockchain is simply a piece of software that enables the sharing of value, such as payments, between peers online. Importantly, blockchain allows the information to be shared without the need to go through any third-party intermediaries such as banks or payment companies. As its name suggests, it is made of blocks that are connected in chains and each block stores a small part of the history of the transactions that have taken places on the blockchain.
2. When was blockchain first created?
Blockchain is not so much an original idea as it is a combination of a number of pre-existing technologies such as cryptography, peer-to-peer computing and others. The successful first digital implementation of blockchain was in 2008, with the publication of a whitepaper by an anonymous developer, nicknamed Satoshi Nakamoto, in which the idea of blockchain-mediated cryptocurrency, known as bitcoin, was first proposed.
3. How does blockchain support bitcoin?
Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency that one can think of as digital cash. Bitcoin only exists online and therefore, its exchange needs to be recorded digitally. Blockchain essentially acts as a digital ledger to record all transactions happening between the peers online and provides a secure and decentralised record for all of the exchanges.
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