Blockchain: The second phase of the digital revolution?

The digital currency Bitcoin has caused a lot of attention in recent years. The price has risen sharply. Over a period of three years, Bitcoin has even increased 238 percent against the US dollar. And within five years, the price has risen by the trifle of 19,000 percent. One reason for enthusiasm: China has devalued and is now trying to prevent its citizens from making money abroad. The bitcoin rate correlates nicely with the dollar rate against the yuan. Now the authorities are launching a new start to restrict Bitcoin trading. So far they have failed.

Bitcoins and similar cryptoscripts have hardly left their mark on the world markets – even if you can now buy bitcoins on Swiss ticket machines. In total, not even 20 billion dollars in such vehicles. By way of comparison, if we sum up all the government debt, we will have more than $ 200 trillion, or $ 200,000 billion, a thousandfold. From the estimated 630 trillion to 1.2 trillion dollars, which are in some derivatives, not to mention.

In the start-up as well as the financial sector, Bitcoin has nevertheless already broken. In the meantime, banks, companies and central banks have recognized the potential of the technology behind them. The so-called blockchain could not only interfere with the monetary system, but the entire financial sector. In addition, there are practical applications in practically every industry. Blockchain could one day take on practically every task for which it now needs middle-aged men. Because Blockchain brings a centuries-old tradition into the digital world. The technology allows for a falsification-proof accounting for practically every object. It takes place, so to speak, in the cloud – and is transparent, so understandable.

For each use, one can theoretically create its own blockchain. Bitcoin is just the oldest and most successful example: “One can imagine it as a dressing room where the doors of the boxes are transparent,” says Israeli blockchain expert Amit Harel in conversation with the press: “We know what’s going on the box. But not who owns the box. “Transactions are handled anonymously between the participants and then confirmed to the network. Complicated computer algorithms check these acknowledgments – several hundred times at different locations. “Only when the network mostly secures the transactions, they become a new reality,” says Harel. A new block is created – and attached to the chain. If the computers can not confirm the transaction because a page feels deceived or stolen, it is undone. “This makes the blockchain a platform for the secure management of assets in the digital world. If someone hack into your account today and steal money, you’ll never see it again, “says Harel, who has been working as a director with Start-ups at Deloitte in Israel for five years.

Of course there are also problems and dangers. For accounting purposes, a number must be assigned to each diamond, aircraft part or plot in the chain – and fraud or error can be creep in. It is therefore hardly surprising that the use of the new technology in the real world has so far been limited. Most applications are still falling into the category of future music.

Financial markets are already living in the digital world. And the banks do not waste any time. According to a study by IBM, the banks are much faster in the development of products based on a blockchain than originally thought. 65 per cent of the banks surveyed in London want to enter the market over the next three years. And 15 percent want to launch a blockchain product as early as 2017. Payment systems or new trading platforms are conceivable. The goal is usually the circumvention of middle-men, which can save money especially in cross-border shops. According to an estimate by Autonomous Research, the clearing of transactions alone in the G7 countries costs around USD 54 billion a year.

Even central banks have long been aware of the issue. “The bulk of the financial assets, such as stocks or bonds, still exist today only as digital records, which are stored in central databases,” the experts of the British central bank write. This is not, of course, a concrete forecast, but: “It would theoretically be possible in future to replace the existing infrastructure of the financial system step by step with various decentralized systems.”

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