Bitcoin, blockchain and the (new) future of money
"The technology that will likely have the biggest impact in the next few decades has arrived. It's not social media, it’s not big data, it’s not robotics, it’s not even A.I. You'll be surprised to learn that it's the underlying technology of digital currencies like Bitcoin, called BlockChain." - Don Tapscott
Blockchain is a data structure that makes it possible to create a digital ledger of transactions and share it among a distributed network of computers across the world. The technology is still in its infancy and it opens up vast new possibilities that will (eventually) make institutions like Financial Banks irrelevant.
Conventional "fiat" currency is a currency that belongs to, and is controlled by a country, e.g. US$, Yen, Euro, ZAR, etc.
A "cryptocurrency" is a virtual, decentralized and distributed currency. BitCoin is the most well-known cryptocurrency that is gaining popularity. Many online stores are adapting by accepting BitCoins as payment.
BitCoin and other crypto currencies like Ethereum and Litecoin is built using BlockChain technology but is just one small incarnation of what BlockChain is capable of. It is a way to control any asset or do secure transfer of data, money, title deeds, club membership, anything really. It can do 'smart contracts' and many other new things that is still being developed.
BlockChain is not under any organisation's control. It is owned and controlled by all the 'miners' that do the actual work. BlockChain mining is where powerful computers spread blocks of transactions to all miners, they all crunch the numbers to verify a 'block' of data/transactions and reach a consensus (in software). Therefore to hack BitCoin itself is virtually impossible as you'll have to hack millions of computers around the world simultaneously. It will not stop hacking entirely, but once a transaction is in the blockchain, it is safe. Transactions can be approved automatically in seconds or minutes, significantly cutting costs and boosting efficiency.
Another facet is that cryptocurrencies can also be traded against other cryptocurrencies and/or fiat currencies as its value relative to other currencies fluctuates, opening up new trading opportunities.
BitCoin is not perfect, but lessons learned will produce better and better cryptocurrencies and other blockchain based technologies. I'll be watching this space...
True Technologies can assist with hardware requirements if you are interested in BlockChain mining.