Blockchain is an irreversible, unchangeable way of recording a series of transactions and information. Also, a blockchain is a network of blocks containing various information replicated on every participating computer (called nodes) in the network, and then digitally signed or hashed. Whenever consensus is achieved i.e when all nodes approve that certain transactions are valid, the approved transactions are compiled into a block, which is then added to the chain of past approved blocks. The pioneering application of blockchain technology was Bitcoin, which enabled the storage and transfer of value in a decentralized digital form.
The Essentialities of Blockchain to Humanity
Trustless: Before the advent of Bitcoin, and till now, the society has run on trust. From social trust, when early men had to depend on deciphering facial expressions and signs—to technological and institutional trusts, where men have to believe their money is safe with banks or that an airplane was painstakingly built so it won’t crash or that lawmakers are making policies with all dignity and honesty.
However, things are different with blockchain technology. It is dubbed Trustless because trust isn’t needed as the activities on a blockchain are cryptographically initiated. Cryptography is essentially a branch of computer engineering that enables the secrecy and security of transferred information.
When a transaction is carried out, it is hashed i.e cryptographically sealed. So when anyone in, or outside, the blockchain ecosystem tries to tamper with the hashed block, the hash changes automatically, exposing the fraudulent act.
Before blockchain, there have been various attempts to create digital money, which failed because of prospects’ skepticism. There was no assurance that the creators won’t create more of the money for themselves? Or tamper with its value to dubiously benefit themselves? Bitcoin solved these trust problems with its consensus/mining protocol.
Decentralization: The issue of centralization has lingered for a long time. Of course, the absence of a governing/central body breeds anarchy as there is no overseeing entity to ensure effective life fluency. But over time, governments, institutions and monopolies have failed as they have assumed the roles of overlords over their subjects and customers alike.
For example, the monopolies. At their inception—after having gone through the rickety stage of building an irrefusable, topnotch product on a platform—they do everything marketing to turn prospects into customers. Armed with a large customer-base, they get the attention of complements like content creators and developers, which further increases their growth and power simultaneously.
But things start to fall apart when policies are made behind doors and implemented overnight to the detriment of their complements. Some lose a lot of followers, while some have their accounts seized. In fact, monopolies try everything possible to stunt the growth of other startups or just buy them out, especially ones in their domain using their platform.
Now, blockchain fosters decentralization as power isn’t wielded by any central body but the participants of the ecosystem are the authority. Indeed, blockchain enables true democracy.
Users have trusted banks in the past for clean, hassle-free transactions, and the safety of their money. However, in 2018, credit card fraud took more than $24 billion, and the statistics fluctuate yearly. Also, banks can make policies and enforce them on their customers anytime. These listed problems are little compared to the atrocities institutions legally commit; it prompted the progenitor of Bitcoin, with the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, to build the digital currency on a blockchain. Bitcoin transactions are peer-to-peer i.e individuals can transact with another without a central body like a bank to monitor activities.
Programmability: Computer codes that ushered in the era of the Internet were open-source, meaning anyone could access it, build on it, and do whatever they liked with it. They were jolly days—the godified monopolies built their platforms on these pioneering codes but made them inaccessible so they could exert control. Blockchain networks are open-source, too, therefore programmable. It helps to attract more smart developers to work and improve on past states.
The advent of bitcoin signified the blockchain 1.0 era where value could only be stored on a blockchain. Then, Vitalik Buterin, the founder of Ethereum (ETH) protocol, came around, saw that more could be done and then built the smart contract-supporting ETH, signifying a new era: Blockchain 2.0.
The programmability of blockchains allowed smart contracts to help traditional financial markets transition to decentralized finance—TradFi to DeFi. DeFi is automated, faster and doesn’t need any bank. Blockchain codebases are the foundation to build on for the future as Web 3.0 dwarfs the traditional Internet.
Some Amazing Blockchain Protocols and Why They Matter
Some projects like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Cardano, Solana, have established sovereignty as they are arguably the biggest ecosystems in the blockchain-verse. But there are other groundbreaking projects, too, looking to solve pending problems using blockchain.
Cosmos: Information and transactions are borderless on the Internet. The Internet is like a big complex machine, with interconnected moving parts, lubricated by the constant transportation of information; with different central bodies claiming harmony enforcers.
But the blockchain-verse is comparably nascent and growing, simultaneously. Blockchain protocols can’t communicate with each other so it’s virtually impossible to directly transfer assets from one protocol to another.
Cosmos, an innovative decentralized network, is solving this interconnection problem using the Inter-Blockchain Communication protocol (IBC). Users will be able to swap, exchange and transfer digital assets on sovereign blockchains with ease. By valuing interoperability and scalability, Cosmos is improving ecosystems and inter-enterprise workflows, across blockchain networks using the IBC.
Qtum: it’s a permissionless, open source blockchain platform that utilizes the EVM (Ethereum Virtual Machine) and UTXO (Unspent Transaction Output). Normally, to implement a change in how a blockchain protocol works, there has to be forking. However, now employing smart contracts in its Decentralized Governance Protocol (DGP), certain modifications can be made to Qtum without having to disrupt the platform’s working principles. While Qtum has a serene ecosystem spanning from exchanges to various wallets—and for builders and innovators to build problem-solving projects on—it has its native coin: Qtum.
Oraichain: Simply put, Oraichain is the Oracle of the blockchain-verse. It’s using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to enhance smart contracts. With its own token, the ORAI, it allows staking and earning as it explores the DeFi landscape.
With Oraichain, there are loads of advantages: it’s easier for users to find AI solutions that aren’t readily available elsewhere. Also, Oraichain demonstrates real democracy operating as a DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) so before any changes can be made to the network, the people—the stakeholders, the validators—must review and approve the change.
The blockchain technology is still abstract to many but it's advancing everyday. There’s so much going on now in the blockchain-verse so it’s getting popular, bigger and simpler as new minds and solutions build on the technology and adeptly articulate what they are doing. As later shown in this piece—with Oraichain, Cosmos and Qtum—cryptocurrency isn’t the only blockchain use case. Its applications span virtually all spheres of life and discipline.