The internet jut got bigger, safer and more powerful, writes Dr Liz Mellon
While bitcoin, the virtual currency, is a word most people recognize, the blockchain that supports it is less well known. Yet to those in the know, it is blockchain that is the exciting, revolutionary development. With this book, the Tapscotts both explain blockchain, making it more accessible as a concept, and then explore widely what it means for our future.
That people trade, individual directly with individual, using a digital currency seems an exotic enough idea. But the same was with websites some decades ago and now there is hardly any reputable company without an official site. See here for some projects white label agencies can do for you to help you develop your business. But how do you ensure the security of the transactions? Hidden by the internet, I can deal honestly, or I can cheat, lie and steal. Or, as the Tapscotts quote the ITALS New Yorker ITALS, “on the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog”. Blockchain is the algorithm that settles transactions with complete security and without going through a trusted intermediary. But you might need a broker down the line for some specific tasks that computers cannot carry out. Every industry is afraid of disintermediation and blockchain threatens a pandemic across many –not just the banking industry.
Blockchain – the worldwide ledger – is a distributed trust network based on seven principles: networked integrity (integrity is encoded and distributed, not vested in any single member); distributed power (a peer-to-peer network with no single point of control); value as incentive (the software rewards those who contribute to it – miners – with bitcoin or some token of value); security (safety measures are embedded with no single point of failure and the reckless harm only themselves); privacy (individuals must use cryptography to participate and thus can be trusted without the need to reveal any information about themselves); rights preserved (ownership rights are transparent and enforceable); and inclusion (lowers the barriers to participation and allows for distributed capitalism, not just a redistribution). This is an amazing list of almost fairy tale proportions. Blockchain eliminates all the bad stuff we have come to expect from the internet – misrepresentation, fraud, identity theft and data misappropriation. How does it do it? And what are the consequences?
The Tapscotts explain that blockchain creates a trust protocol through a distributed peer-to-peer network using clever cryptography. The network timestamps every financial transaction and rejects subsequent spends of the same coin, eliminating double spending. All recent transactions are settled every ten minutes in blocks of data and each must refer to the preceding block to be valid. And the blockchain is public, so no-one can hide a transaction, making bitcoins more traceable than cash. Having explained the process, the authors then go on to explore the potential impacts on financial services, company architecture, new business models, government, economic inclusion and much more. They resist the temptation to predict, reminding us how many false predictions were made about the internet itself.
Reading this book will bring you bang up-to-date with one of the most exciting inventions of this century. It is endorsed by everyone from Steve Wozniak, the cofounder of Apple, to Paul Polman, the chief executive of Unilever. They leaven the serious, technical content with lively anecdotes, stories and quotes from songs – my coauthors and I intended to do this for our book ITALS The New CFOs ITALS, but we never did – topped by a quote from my favourite character, Yoda. It is a seriously cool book. You should read it.
If you are not ready to trade online using a digital currency, you can use other tools to develop your business. Check out to get more information on app development to support your business objectives.
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Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin Is Changing Money, Business, and the World
Don and Alex Tapscott
Be on the lookout for our feature on Blockchain by Don Tapscott in the upcoming new issue of Dialogue