Digital cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin may have failed to unseat their more traditional rivals, but the technology that underpins Bitcoin may yet bring about a revolution in finance and other industries. This technology is called the “blockhain”.
The blockchain acts as a public database or ledger, and is the technology that stores the details of every exchange of bitcoins. What makes it particularly clever is that it is designed to stop the same bitcoin being spent twice, without the need for a third party (like a bank).
The promise of the blockchain
Even from the early days of Bitcoin, it was believed that the blockchain could be used for much more than recording Bitcoin transactions. What the blockchain does is record a set of details that include a time, a cryptographic signature linking back to the sender and some data that can represent almost anything. In the case of Bitcoin, it is the number of bitcoins being sent but it could be a digital cryptographic signature, called a “hash”, of any electronic document.
One of the earliest demonstrations of the potential of using the blockchain in this way was “proof of existence”, a website that allows a user to upload any document and