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Blockchain technology in web development

By Darren Chowles on Monday, 8 January 2018

Not a day goes by where we don’t hear about cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum or one of the newer coins that just came out of its ICO (Initial Coin Offering - similar to IPOs that launch on the stock market). Or perhaps a formerly obscure coin increasing 10,000% in value in a matter of days. The technology that drives these systems, is called a blockchain.

What is a “blockchain”?

Essentially, blockchain is a decentralised system that allows for the fast, secure and transparent peer-to-peer transfer of digital goods (like money, intellectual property, contracts, etc.). All transactions are logged in a public ledger, helping to ensure that all transactions are authentic. This transparency is also key in preventing tampering and fraud.

Each time a transaction takes place, e.g. sending currency from one user to another in the case of cryptocurrencies, the details of the transaction (source, destination, timestamp) are added to what’s referred to as a block. The validity of the transaction is checked by the collective computing power of what’s referred to as “miners”. Once validated, the public ledger throughout the network is updated so they all have the latest version.

Isn’t the blockchain just for cryptocurrencies?

Cryptocurrencies are certainly the largest player when it comes to the blockchain, but it’s usable by a number of industries. Below are a handful:

  • Banks and Financial Institutions - using the blockchain, these institutions can save significant costs when it comes to information sharing and accuracy;
  • Payments - as we’ve seen with popular cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, many people are after a decentralised currency to facilitate quick, cross-country transactions with minimal fees;
  • Real Estate - blockchain will allow us to cut down on the paperwork, lack of transparency and public record errors that usually beleaguer this industry;
  • A number of other industries: security, education, voting, sales, networking, IoT, rights and IP, insurance, healthcare, cloud storage, wills, human resources, etc.

Does anybody use it yet?

There are a number of well-known businesses that have implemented blockchain solutions. Some of these include:

  • T-Mobile and Intel’s Hyper Directory access management solution;
  • PwC and Guidewire making the bordereau process more efficient using blockchain-based smart contracts solutions for auto-approving claims and triggering payments;
  • Pokitdok working with healthcare organisations to improve patient experiences.

Blockchain in web development

Because blockchain is such a sought-after and versatile technology, a number of large technology firms have embraced it and started offering a blockchain-as-a-service facility. These include:

  • Amazon Web Services (one of our preferred hosting partners);
  • Microsoft Azure Blockchain Service and 
  • IBM Blockchain Platform.

The rise of these services means that blockchain is becoming more widely used. Keep an eye on this space, this is only the beginning.

If you’re looking to explore the world of blockchain, or even interested in creating a web service incorporating things like cryptocurrencies using various APIs, please do not hesitate to contact us. We already have a number of these concepts in the pipeline, and would be delighted to apply our expertise and knowledge to your unique project.

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