Blockchain Comes of Age

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Bitcoin Chain IMG_9179” (CC BY 2.0) by btckeychain

2017 looks to be peak season for blockchain, the technology innovation behind Bitcoin that makes digital currency transactions a reliably safe bet. Bitcoin transactions in 2016 accounted for over $200,000 US per day, and business confidence in the security of digital currencies as a whole is clearly growing.

So much so, that the Bitcoin platform has begun to attract the attention of prominent names in the iGaming industry – a sector where internet security gets taken very seriously indeed.

Vegas Casino is one such casino website that deals exclusively in Bitcoin. A sign-up bonus of 1000 free millibitcoins (mBTC) is on offer to new members in a promotion designed to attract consumer interest in what is rapidly becoming an established online marketplace. More iGaming ventures will surely follow as the business community gets behind the concept of digital currency and the potential of blockchain technology.

So what is blockchain, and why is it important?

First floated as a concept in 2008, the blockchain sets out to square the circle between security and network-wide distribution. Both are major concerns for the internationally connected financial industry, which has been swift to explore this emergent technology.

Bitcoin & Namecoin Shopping Avenue” (Public Domain) by Namecoin

All those computers need to communicate to enable a currency transaction of any meaningful kind, but each message, each transaction must be kept secure, incorruptible. Prior to blockchain, these crucial records – the keys to the financial kingdom – had to be stored and administered by some kind of centralized authority, a ripe target for hackers. The see-saw struggle between encryption and decryption is easily appreciated, but blockchain turns that struggle on its head.

In theory anyone attempting to attack a blockchain system would have to possess as much processing power as the entire blockchained network combined.

There is no central archive to raid; each node instead adds its own unique signature to the trafficked data before passing it along to its peers, thereby authenticating and updating the shared database. This makes for a secure distributed ledger, ideal for handling financial transactions – and for streamlining them too.

According to Goldman Sachs, broad adoption of blockchain technology by banking services to optimize clearing and settlements could generate global savings of up to $6 billion per annum.

But the notion of the blockchain offers possibilities that extend well beyond the crunching of financial numbers…


Imogen Heap” (CC BY 2.0) by Man Alive!

The music industry has also put blockchain to work recently. In February 2017 British pop artist Imogen Heap announced work on “Mycelia”, a blockchain-based decentralized music distribution network linked to Bitcoin. In her own words, the project will “take away the power from top down and give power to the artist to help shape their own future.”

Other applications of blockchain range from digitally certifying diamond ownership across Africa to registering land ownership in Sweden. Put simply, wherever large volumes of data are being processed, the blockchain proves distinctly useful.

The European Commission recently signaled it was planning to grow its support for blockchain projects; a move that may open up fresh funding opportunities for a new generation of blockchain-based start-ups. Last year saw $1 billion invested in blockchain technology, and The World Economic Forum forecasts that a staggering 10% of global GDP could be stored on blockchains within a decade.

This process of adoption will likely accelerate as further applications of the technology come to light. All this activity makes blockchain a very exciting technology indeed, with profound implications for the future of both data security and data management.


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