Okay. So, a new platform to record stuff - support by computers all over the world - and there's no governing body?
“That’s right, it’s decentralised.”
But who owns these computers all over the world?
“Blockchain developers we call miners.”
What's in it for them?
“Sometimes nothing. Sometimes digital tokens.”
Whoa. I think I get it. Okay, it's new tech, super cool, incorruptible, immutable and an incredible way to record data. But ... who is using it?
“Right now, the most recognised use for blockchain is using that store of information to create a value that is represented by digital currencies such as bitcoin.
“Most major companies in the world (as well as plenty of start-ups) are thinking about different ways of using this new framework. The first movers in this area are in the financial industry. For instance, J.P. Morgan has announced that it is looking at blockchain to track and store money or assets.
“The Australian Securities Exchange has announced that it is looking at ways of using it to track and record stock ownership. Insurance companies are also looking at blockchain to create policies.
But if I want music I still go to Spotify? If I want a book I go to Ama... I mean, Kinokuniya, yes?
“Good point. For now, yes. But what blockchain has the potential to do is to challenge businesses that are largely intermediaries, like Amazon, Uber or Spotify. Perhaps no one more than banks falls under this category, but companies like those you just pointed out do function as the middleperson.”
So if we all get on this blockchain party, there'd be no more intermediaries?
“The big benefits of blockchain are that it is trustworthy and free. Information or value can now be recorded, stored and transferred without the need for a middle person. Users will save on transaction costs and, over time, it will become more efficient than the way we do things now.
“Going back to the example of the music industry: Blockchain may allow people to purchase music directly from the musicians and therefore cut out the need for Spotify or Apple. You would just transfer value to the musician’s spot on the blockchain, and this act would cause the ledger to automatically release the musician’s recording to you.”
How can I help to contribute to this new future?
“Keep asking questions and updating yourself, like what you’re doing now! The blockchain community is very open and understands that blockchain may be a bit confusing. If you find yourself talking to a blockchain expert, use it as an opportunity to learn something new. Any expert loves speaking to someone who is intellectually curious. If you wish to take it to the next level, learn to code, and be a developer!”
Okay, mind officially blown. What happens tomorrow?
“As with any new technical development, it takes time for the paradigm to shift. For a while, we will continue to do things the same way we always have, and it may even seem as if blockchain is just a lot of noise. But changes will come bit by bit. Then one day, without warning, you will notice that the world has changed! The framework for transactions will be completely different from what they are today. At that point, lead, follow, or get out of the way!”