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Current definition

Blockchain

Blockchain is a digital network of records linked together using cryptography. Blockchain helps to decentralize interactions - such as trading - by allowing for transactions to take place without the need for a centralized, intermediary institution, like a bank. Instead, each time a transaction takes place, the entire blockchain is updated, and the changes are visible to everyone across the network.

Blockchain’s first application was Bitcoin – a cryptocurrency – and it essentially works by using a digital ledger. User data is added to this ledger, and is cross-referenced by a network of other computers who store a copy of the information. The ledger can only be added to; it cannot be edited.

According to Wired: “The ledger consists of linked batches of transactions known as blocks (hence the term blockchain), and an identical copy is stored on each of the roughly 200,000 computers that make up the bitcoin network.”

Blockchain is of interest to the digital identity community because as a decentralised system it has the potential to solve personal data theft, mismanagement and misuse and identity theft, and shifts control over personal data from institutions to the individual.

More around the web

"The original blockchain is the decentralized ledger behind the digital currency bitcoin. The ledger consists of linked batches of transactions known as blocks (hence the term blockchain), and an identical copy is stored on each of the roughly 200,000 computers that make up the bitcoin network. Each change to the ledger is cryptographically signed to prove that the person transferring virtual coins is the actual owner of those coins. But no one can spend their coins twice, because once a transaction is recorded in the ledger, every node in the network will know about it."

The WIRED Guide to the Blockchain – Klint Finley, WIRED

“Blockchain can be used to create a platform that protects individuals’ identities from theft and massively reduces fraudulent activities. The technology can also help businesses build strong blockchains that handle the issues of authentication and reconciliation encountered in several industries. Additionally, it can allow individuals the freedom to create encrypted digital identities that will replace multiple usernames and passwords while offering more comprehensive security features capable of saving customers and institutions valuable time and resources.”

How Blockchain Can Solve Identity Management Problems – Rohan Pinto, Forbes Technology Council

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