Thursday, February 2, 2017

AmEx Joins JPMorgan, IBM in Hyperledger Effort

Blockchain technology is widely used by various cryptocurrencies as a way to track and record virtual transactions. A blockchain, in the simplest sense, is a digital ledger that serves as a chronological record of all transactions conducted in a specified cryptocurrency. The Hyperledger Project intends to adapt this technology in order to develop an open source blockchain that will streamline and improve the security of business transactions across the world.
Businesses—particularly those in the financial sector—view blockchain technology as a solution for improving digital transactions and security. Using a common blockchain to streamline financial transactions can make otherwise complicated business matters drastically more efficient. This can be taken further by eliminating the need for these massive financial institutions in the first place by making a direct connection between customers and their respective purchases with sellers. Instead of credit, or financial transactions traveling through any number of intermediaries, a log of the transactions will be generated and recorded, essentially cutting out the “middleman”
Furthermore, the implementation of blockchain technologies on a large scale such as this can mark huge improvements in security with regards to transactions. Blockchain technology is virtually impossible to hack, and has the potential to transform a wide variety of industries. Credit institutions like American Express could reap huge benefits in making credit card transactions harder, if not impossible, to manipulate. This will likely reduce instances of fraud drastically while maintaining a permanent record of all transactions that is instantaneously updateable.
These added security benefits can be applied elsewhere as well. Don Tapscott discusses some of these implications in his recent TedTalk, outlining the possibilities centered around the use of blockchain technology in the near future in sectors ranging from politics and government to the music industry. Music, for example, is very difficult to control in terms of distribution and artists will go to great lengths to protect their work from internet piracy. Blockchain technology can solve this problem by creating a system that uniquely identifies artists and their music.
            Blockchain technology can also make huge headways in improving voting and electoral processes in the United States. In many cases, our voting system has proven to be archaic and inadequate to meet today’s needs. I recently experienced how deficient our voting system is during this past presidential election when I sent in an absentee ballad request in late September only to receive my actual ballad today in February. A period of four months had passed before I received my ballad, which is evidently enough time for us to elect a new president and inaugurate them. Treating votes in the same manner cryptocurrencies (like Bitcoins) through the use of blockchain technology may finally allow us to hold elections online. This would ideally lead to higher voter turnout rates, a faster and more efficient voting process, and eventually make voter fraud/tampering a thing of the past.






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