Paleolithic Blockchain – the beginning of time

Ok so blockchain is a significant buzzword right now but did you know this has been around for a while this technology? When I say this tech, I am not talking about bitcoin or cryptocurrency but actual blockchain or block chain (original format).

The blockchain is a bunch of records or lists, which are permanent, that grow, and each transaction is called a block which is linked to a chain using cryptography. Cryptography is an umbrella term for a bunch of tools that can are used for security. Saying you use cryptography is like saying I use an editor. You choose the tools to suit what you want to achieve. The fantastic thing about blockchain is verification which means once the digital record or transaction has been verified & timestamped it is not editable. Time stamping happens when the operation is confirmed as true and upon adding to the chain will contain a cryptographic hash of the previous block, transaction details (this is a hash or Merkle tree ) and a timestamp.

There are these two guys Stuart Haber and Scott Stornetta, both are cryptographers who wanted to find a way to timestamp a digital document so it can be verified as authentic. Way back in 1991 they created ‘Surety’ software to get a solution to their idea. How exciting the white paper is to read, and I would recommend clicking on the link. This article was written by the two cryptographers mentioned above ‘How to Time-Stamp a Digital Document’.

Why would I use blockchain technology? Imagine you need to have a permanent, public record that has been date/time stamped as authentic. This record could not be edited or updated and if needed to be used as legal recourse in verifying the exact date/time the transaction was started. In the whitepaper above they mention an issue with documents that become tamper-unpredictable on page 11 and they provide an interesting solution to the issue.

As an ex-insurance underwriter, I get excited when things can be date/time stamped and are not able to be tampered with. You cannot even begin to imagine how many times customers would get confused about when things had happened, intentional or not, but for me it was the satisfaction of being able to backdate a discount because I had a transaction date to refer to. Datetime stamps are an essential part of everything we do legally, and as we move more into the digital age, it will become even more critical.

Where can I see it being used? Online claim lodgement remembering your personal details are not attached, but a hash is which could be noted in the CRM the insurance company uses for personal data. This would work well during an event that had been categorised by the government as a disaster and the claims are literally flooding in. The government organisations that need funding every year to support the required emergency services could use the blockchain claim data without knowing any personal details other than possibly it was a building, contents or motor vehicle claim. This would work wonderfully in any government funded services like support for the aged or disabled. Charities that raise funds can now have public transparency in the amount that is donated and spent.

Do you have any ideas where blockchain tech could be used? Leave a comment below.

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