Blockchain is a digital database containing information (such as records of financial transactions) that can be simultaneously used and shared within a large decentralized, publicly accessible network.

A more technical definition is that a blockchain consists of records (let’s call them “blocks”), which are linked using cryptography.  This chain of blocks grows over time, as more transactions are added. Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp, and of course the transaction data itself.

From this, we can observe the following properties.  (As you read this list, reflect on how such properties could benefit your business.)

Data is immutable: if a malicious party tampers with a record (i.e. modifies an existing record) then it will be rejected by the network.

Irrefutability of transactions: data is signed by the owner of a private key.  Nobody else has a copy of that private key, therefore, that solitary owner cannot later claim to have not authorised a transaction that had been signed with that key.

Distributed ledger technology (refer to our FAQ on that topic)

Category: Definitions