What is Blockchain?
Blockchain is a new and developing technology which can offer radical changes and improvements to the financial systems we use online, including banking. Put simply, Blockchain is a public ledger of transactions which are anonymously recorded. Each party involved in the transaction will have their own ledger. The data in the ledger cannot be altered. It is also a decentralised system, which is why everyone has their own ledger as opposed to getting the ledger from one person/device. This also means there is no central point of failure. So now we’ve covered the very basic idea of what Blockchain is, what can it be used for?
Decentralised Social Media
Blockchain can be used to create decentralised websites. The easiest example of this is a social media website, which is already happening. For instance, Steemit is a social media website which uses Blockchain technology to financially reward its users who post, discover or comment on content.
A smart contract, put simply, is the same as a legal contract but in a digital form and therefore automatically enforced. Smart contracts cut out the middle man (mostly lawyers) when creating and distributing contracts. An example of a smart contract can be something as simple as paying rent. Since a smart contract is basically a bunch of conditional statements, a smart contract can be linked to your bank account and check it has at least £200 every month. If it does, then it would deduct £200 from the bank account and transfer it to the landlord. If there isn't £200, then an e-mail/text/other form of notification can be used to alert you and the landlord about the failure of payment.
Real-time Customised Website Content
Blockchain technology can be used to customise the content of a website in real-time to tailor to each individual viewer's interests and personality. That means each viewer of the same webpage can be experiencing a completely different webpage. Start-up company Behaviour Exchange claims they already have this technology available. With your consent, the company builds a profile on you with information about the websites you visit, what you're interested in etc. and uses this profile to tailor websites in real-time so the viewer only gets the content they are interested in.
Blockchain can also keep tallies of votes. With the way blockchain technology works (each node having their own version of the tallies) this would create a safer and more secure method of voting and counting votes than the current methods we use today.
In the stock market Blockchain technology can be used to directly transfer ownership of shares instead of sending all transactions through a centralised hub. Currently, members of the stock market have to go through a complex process in which it can take up to 3 days to complete transactions. Blockchain makes this process more simple and faster due to its decentralisation and automation.
In conclusion, Blockchain can be used to change and improve a wide range of services. As new services are created and take off, it is interesting to think just how far blockchain can advance in the future. For a more comprehensive and detailed explanation of Blockchain technology and how it works, I advise reading Niccolo's blog.