Bitcoin, Blockchain, and You

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On August 6, 1991, the World Wide Web went live. 

If most people could go back in time, they would do so to invest their money in companies like Microsoft, Apple, and Google. If this makes your stomach hurt, you’re not alone. 

Today, there is much ballyhoo about Bitcoin. This may not end up being the massive disruptor that some people predicted, as its value dropped from $20,000 to now a little over $4,000 in 12 months. However, if you’re looking for a true disruptor, look underneath the hood of Bitcoin. What you’ll find is something called blockchain 

Amidst all the attention cryptocurrency is receiving, it is important to understand that blockchain does not equal Bitcoin. Most people aren’t aware of this.  

All cryptocurrencies have one thing in common: they run on a blockchain or, more specifically, a distributed ledger technology (DLT). Satoshi Nakamoto is the pseudonym for the unknown individual or group of individuals (the facts about this are not clear) who invented both Bitcoin and blockchain. What Satoshi Nakamoto created made possible a way to have transactions happen without needing everything to go through a central point, e.g., a bank or some governmental institution, and without making public the identities of people who make transactions.  

As a cryptocurrency, Bitcoin could not exist without a blockchain as it needed the means to have its electronic records managed and, more importantly, its transactions verified. It is one thing to build a rocket, but without building a rocket engine you will not be going to the Moon.   

Said simply, Bitcoin is a (crypto/electronic) currency and a blockchain is a distributing database of transaction records which have been shared with all its participants. Imagine all the transactions that happen in your bank happening without the banking needing to be involved. Using blockchain, not only are all the records permanent and secure, they are all done pseudonymously. 

Technology and the Internet have made connectivity–whether between a mother and child or between two governments on different sides of the globe–ubiquitous. Things are possible for business, commerce, healthcare, peace, and education that couldn’t have even been considered just twenty years ago. This includes innovations like blockchain. 

This blog series will explain how it will disrupt business productivity and customer experiences. In exploring its value, we will focus on these areas: Global Finance, Data Privacy and Security, and Philanthropy.

 

Co-authored, edited and prepared with Ashlyn Vogelsang.

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