Blockchain technology is a revolutionary advancement in digital record-keeping and data storage that has the potential to revolutionize many industries. It provides secure, reliable, and efficient ways of storing and accessing data, as well as facilitating transactions between parties with trustless mechanisms. This article will provide an overview of blockchain technology for beginners, including key terms and concepts, benefits of the technology, applications of blockchain, technologies and companies related to it, events and conferences about the subject matter; as well as actionable steps for getting started. In addition to this overview, readers will find resources on how to learn more about blockchain.
- Blockchain technology is a revolutionary advancement in digital record-keeping and data storage.
- It offers secure, reliable, and efficient ways of storing and accessing data, eliminating the need for trust in third parties.
- Blockchain technology has potential opportunities in various industries, such as finance, healthcare, and supply chain management.
- Cryptocurrencies, enabled by blockchain technology, have revolutionized the way money is exchanged and can be used as payment systems or stores of value.
What is Blockchain?
Blockchain is a decentralized, distributed ledger technology that records and stores transactions on a secure, immutable digital platform. This technology offers users increased data privacy, with the capability for network scalability. It also provides an auditable history of all activity on the blockchain – any changes are securely documented in chronological order. By creating a shared record of all transactions within its environment, blockchain eliminates the need to trust third parties or intermediaries to verify and validate this information. As a result, it has become an increasingly popular choice for businesses looking to streamline their systems and reduce costs. In addition, blockchain can help protect against fraud since its transaction history is verifiable and transparent – making it difficult to manipulate or change without detection. With these capabilities, blockchain presents potential opportunities in many areas of industry and commerce.
Moving forward into key terms and concepts related to blockchain for beginners will be essential in gaining further understanding of this powerful new technology.
Key Terms and Concepts
Blockchain technology is a distributed ledger system that is based on cryptography and used for secure digital record-keeping. In this system, the same set of records are maintained across multiple computers in a network, making it near impossible for any single user to tamper with the data. Cryptography provides an extra level of security by encrypting sensitive information such as financial transactions using cryptographic algorithms. Together, these two concepts form the basis of blockchain technology and ensure its effectiveness in providing secure digital data management solutions.
Distributed Ledger Technology
Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) is a system of maintaining records across multiple independent nodes, enabling secure and immutable transactions. But how does DLT ensure that all the nodes are in synchronization? DLT works by relying on trustless networks and decentralized networks to enable peer-to-peer connections which synchronize all the nodes on the network. This process is further secured by incorporating cryptography for authentication purposes.
DLT utilizes a consensus mechanism to guarantee that each node has an identical copy of ledger data without relying on a centralized authority or third party intermediary. This ensures that there is no single point of failure, allowing users to securely connect and exchange information in real-time without any intermediaries. Additionally, cryptographic algorithms such as asymmetric encryption and digital signatures are used to ensure data integrity throughout the entire transaction process. By leveraging this technology, users can trustlessly confirm transactions while also ensuring its immutability. As such, distributed ledger technology provides a secure platform for blockchain applications, allowing users to interact with one another directly without sacrificing security or privacy. Transitioning into cryptography, it’s important to understand how cryptographic algorithms help secure blockchain networks…
Cryptography is a vital component of distributed ledger technology, providing an essential layer of security for blockchain networks. It is used to secure the data in the network with encryption algorithms and digital signatures, which allow users to prove that they are who they say they are without revealing their identity. Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin use Proof of Stake algorithms to validate transactions on the blockchain and Zero Knowledge proofs to protect user privacy. This ensures that only those with permission can access or modify the data stored on the blockchain, making it virtually impossible for malicious actors to take control of the system. With these measures in place, cryptography offers an effective solution to secure blockchain networks against potential threats. By using sophisticated cryptographic methods, users can rest assured that their data will remain safe from unauthorized access or tampering.
The next step in understanding distributed ledgers is exploring smart contracts; self-executing contracts that provide additional layers of automation and trust for digital transactions.
Utilizing digital protocols, Smart Contracts enable automated execution of agreements between parties. Smart Contracts have become a mainstay in the blockchain space for their ability to facilitate trustless transactions and secure interactions across distributed networks. They offer advantages over traditional contracts as they are immutable, encrypted, and programmed with specific instructions that execute on predetermined conditions:
- Trustless Transactions: Smart contracts allow for agreement enforcement without relying on third party intermediaries such as banks or lawyers. This is possible due to the decentralized nature of blockchain technology which allows all participants to reach consensus on terms and conditions before an agreement is executed.
- Permissioned Networks: Many enterprise applications require permissioned networks in order to ensure data privacy and security for sensitive information. With smart contracts, it is possible to create private blockchains where only authorized parties can access data or take certain actions when given permission.
Smart Contracts provide significant benefits over traditional contracts by eliminating manual processes, reducing costs associated with third-party services, and enabling faster execution of agreements that can be verified by all stakeholders involved. This paves the way for increased efficiency and transparency in business operations while providing a secure platform that facilitates trustless transactions across permissioned networks.
Benefits of Blockchain
Blockchain technology offers a variety of benefits, including improved security, increased efficiency, transparency and traceability. Security is improved through the use of cryptography to secure data and verify transactions. Efficiency is enhanced by reducing manual processing time and eliminating bureaucratic roadblocks. The blockchain also enables real-time transparency due to its distributed ledger system that allows for immediate information sharing between stakeholders. Finally, traceability is enabled by providing an immutable record of transaction histories that can be tracked back to their source with ease.
The introduction of decentralized ledger technology has enabled enhanced security through strong encryption solutions. Data integrity is protected by cryptographic algorithms that ensure that the information stored on the blockchain network is verifiable and immutable. Privacy protection is ensured as data is stored in a distributed fashion, which makes it difficult for malicious actors to gain access to sensitive information. Furthermore, transactions are validated by consensus protocols based on a digital signature, which allows users to trust the validity of their transactions without any central intermediaries.
These features provide improved security compared to traditional networks and offer a secure environment for transacting data or value. Additionally, smart contracts allow users to automate certain processes while remaining trustworthy and secure, thus providing an efficient solution for verifying business logic or managing financial assets. This increased security leads to greater efficiency when using blockchain-based applications.
By leveraging the increased security of blockchain technology, users can enjoy greater efficiency when utilizing distributed ledger applications. Blockchain’s ability to ensure data integrity and confidentiality allows for transactions to be completed with confidence, resulting in improved efficiency. The decentralized nature of the blockchain further enhances this benefit by reducing transaction costs, allowing users to enjoy cost savings that would not otherwise be available. Additionally, its immutability ensures that data will remain unchanged and secure from tampering or malicious attempts at manipulation. This means that users have the assurance of knowing that their information is safe and secure at all times. Furthermore, privacy concerns are addressed through powerful encryption algorithms which protect confidential user data from unauthorized access.
The transparency and traceability offered by blockchain technology adds another layer of efficiency as it enables organisations to better manage their operations while ensuring accurate tracking across complex supply chains. By providing a tamper-proof digital record of every transaction, businesses can more easily adhere to industry best practices without worrying about potential vulnerabilities or losses due to human error. In turn, this leads to greater operational efficiencies which ultimately result in savings for both businesses and consumers alike.
Transparency and Traceability
Utilizing its decentralized architecture, blockchain technology offers unparalleled levels of transparency and traceability, allowing organizations to maintain an accurate digital record of their activities. Through the use of a trust network and data privacy protocols, blockchain ensures that all transactions are recorded securely in a distributed ledger. This means that each transaction is visible to all stakeholders, making it possible to identify discrepancies or errors quickly. Furthermore, this also provides organizations with greater control over their data because they can ensure that only authorized personnel have access to the information contained within the ledger. As a result, blockchain technology has become increasingly popular as a way to improve efficiency while maintaining high levels of security and accuracy. Consequently, this improved transparency and traceability can provide significant benefits for businesses seeking to increase operational efficiency and reduce costs associated with manual processes. With these advantages in mind, it becomes clear why blockchain is being adopted by many industries looking for improved organizational visibility and trustworthiness. As such, transitioning into the subsequent section about applications of blockchain proves beneficial for understanding how this technology is revolutionizing various sectors around the world.
Applications of Blockchain
Blockchain technology has been increasingly utilized in a variety of applications, including financial services, healthcare, and supply chain management. In the financial sector, blockchain offers enhanced security and audibility to transactions while reducing operational costs. Utilizing blockchain for healthcare purposes can provide an immutable record of patient data that is shared securely across medical institutions. Finally, blockchain also provides traceability and transparency to complex supply chains which aids in managing risk and fraud prevention.
Financial services industry has increasingly adopted blockchain technology, allowing for higher levels of security, transparency and efficiency. This is due to the inherent advantages that blockchain offers such as immutability, data privacy, decentralization and market volatility.
The application of blockchain in the financial sector ranges from cryptocurrency trading platforms to smart contracts that can be utilized for a wide range of transactions. Moreover, it also helps to reduce costs associated with traditional financial services and promote faster settlements. By leveraging the power of distributed ledgers, banks are able to improve customer service while ensuring data safety and compliance with various regulations. With its potential applications in finance becoming more widespread, it is clear that blockchain has the potential to revolutionize the way we interact with money and banking services. As a result, healthcare firms are now looking into ways they can leverage this innovative technology for their own benefit.
The healthcare industry is beginning to explore the potential of blockchain technology as a means to streamline operations and improve patient privacy. For example, IBM’s blockchain-based platform for storing medical records, known as the Trust Your Supplier network, has been used by several major pharmaceutical companies in order to reduce costs and ensure data accuracy. Blockchain technology can also be used to secure medical records stored in the cloud, or on other distributed networks, ensuring data is only accessed by those with authorized access. To further protect patient data security and privacy laws, blockchain technology can be used to create tamperproof audit trails that track when and how sensitive information is accessed. This helps prevent unauthorized disclosure or alteration of confidential health information while giving patients greater control over their data. By leveraging the power of blockchain technology within healthcare organizations, they can guarantee a higher level of data security and compliance with privacy regulations while increasing operational efficiency. Transitioning into supply chain management will enable healthcare providers to gain even more insight into their processes and ensure that drug products are safe from counterfeiting or tampering.
Supply Chain Management
Supply chain management is being revolutionised by the use of blockchain technology, offering improved accuracy, security and efficiency in tracking goods and services. Blockchain technology has been leveraged to enable traceability optimization, which allows for data to be tracked across the entire supply chain from origin to destination. This provides for better visibility into product movement and improves operational efficiency. In addition, blockchain technology can also be used to automate processes within the supply chain, streamlining operations and reducing costs associated with manual labor. By automating processes such as ordering, fulfillment, payment processing and inventory management, companies are able to increase their competitive edge while still providing reliable customer service. As a result of these advancements in supply chain management through blockchain technology, businesses will experience greater cost savings and operational efficiency leading to increased profitability. Furthermore, this transition towards a more secure and transparent system will bring about greater trust among consumers in regards to product authenticity. With these benefits in mind, it is clear that blockchain technology is set to revolutionise the way that supply chains are managed. Moving forward towards cryptocurrencies presents yet another opportunity for businesses seeking greater transparency.
Astonishingly, cryptocurrencies have revolutionized the way money is exchanged in an increasingly digital world. Cryptocurrency trading provide users with a secure and anonymous platform to trade digital currencies, allowing them to take advantage of price fluctuations without any interference from governments or financial institutions. Additionally, cryptocurrency mining rewards miners for verifying transactions on their respective blockchain networks. These rewards come in the form of new units of cryptocurrency that can be bought and sold on the open market.
Cryptocurrencies are also used for more than just trading; they can be used as payment systems or as a store of value. This has enabled merchants around the world to accept payments directly from customers while reducing transaction costs associated with traditional payment methods. Furthermore, many investors view cryptocurrencies as a safe haven asset due to its decentralized nature and limited supply. As such, it serves as an excellent alternative investment tool for those looking to diversify their portfolio beyond stocks and other conventional assets. With these benefits comes great potential for growth in the near future, making cryptocurrencies an exciting opportunity for those willing to take a chance on this emerging technology. From here, we move onto examining how mining works in relation to cryptocurrencies.
Mining is the process of verifying and adding transaction records to a public ledger, known as the blockchain. Mining involves solving complex mathematical problems to validate transactions on the blockchain. There are two main types of mining: solo mining and pool mining. Solo mining requires a miner to have their own computing resources while pool mining allows miners to contribute their computing power in a group setting and share rewards based on their contribution.
What is Mining?
Mining is the process of verifying and adding transactions to the public ledger, known as the blockchain, with astonishing speed – on average a new block is added to the blockchain every 10 minutes. Mining involves complex mathematical calculations that are used to secure and verify digital transactions within a network. In order for miners to successfully validate and add blocks to the chain they must solve complex cryptographic puzzles using powerful computers. This process is known as Proof of Work (POW). As an incentive for performing this work, miners receive rewards in cryptocurrency form for each block they successfully add. Mining can be done individually or through mining pools which are groups of miners who pool their resources together in order to increase their collective hashing power and therefore increase their chances of success.
The process of mining requires both time and energy which makes it expensive but necessary component of any cryptocurrency project as it helps maintain network security by preventing malicious actors from attacking or altering the data stored on the network. By requiring miners to compete with each other in solving complex puzzles, it ensures that all transactions remain valid and secure while also providing an incentive for more people to join in on the network. With these components combined, mining forms an integral part of any proof-of-work based cryptocurrency system. Through understanding how mining works, one can gain insight into how cryptocurrencies function at a deeper level – making it an essential topic when learning about blockchain technology for beginners. Moving forward we will look into different types of mining techniques available today such as cloud mining or solo mining.
Types of Mining
Cryptocurrency mining is an essential part of any proof-of-work based cryptocurrency system, and there are various types of mining techniques available today such as cloud mining or solo mining. The two most popular forms of mining are Proof of Work (PoW) and Proof of Stake (PoS).
Proof of Work involves miners who compete to solve complex mathematical problems in order to add a new block to the blockchain. This type of consensus model rewards miners with newly minted coins for their successful efforts. On the other hand, Proof of Stake requires users to lock up some amount of tokens in a cryptocurrency wallet before being allowed to validate blocks on the network. This method also awards miners with newly generated coins but does not require high computational power like PoW does.
Overall, both PoW and PoS offer different methods for achieving consensus on the blockchain and incentivizing miners for their work. From this understanding, it becomes clear why understanding these various types of mining techniques is important when implementing blockchain technology.
Implementing blockchain technology presents a variety of challenges, including the need to consider the legal framework in which it operates. For example, a case study of Estonia’s e-residency program illustrates how a country can leverage blockchain technology to create an entire digital nation. This use of blockchain technology has undeniably had positive impacts on the citizens and businesses within the country, but also introduces some challenges such as regulatory impact and interoperability issues.
|A comprehensive legal framework that is constantly evaluated and adapted to changing business needs
|Use of standard protocols or APIs for different blockchains to communicate with each other seamlessly
The implementation of blockchain technology requires careful consideration of these factors in order to ensure that it meets its intended purpose without introducing any unintended consequences. Ultimately, understanding the challenges associated with implementing blockchain technology can help organizations make better decisions regarding when and where they should invest their resources. From this perspective, transitioning into the subsequent section about ‘challenges of blockchain’ becomes easier.
Challenges of Blockchain
Blockchain technology has become increasingly popular in the past few years due to its ability to provide a secure and transparent way of conducting transactions. However, there are certain challenges associated with its implementation that need to be addressed. These include scalability, cost and energy consumption, as well as regulatory compliance. To ensure the successful adoption and implementation of blockchain technology, these issues must be addressed in order for it to reach its full potential.
A key challenge for blockchain technology is scalability, as it affects the performance of distributed applications. This includes network capacity, data storage, and transaction throughput. In simple terms, blockchain scalability refers to the system’s ability to manage increased loads without compromising on speed or reliability. As a result, the process time and cost of transactions on a blockchain platform can be greatly reduced if enough resources are available.
However, scaling up a blockchain network requires more than just increasing its capacity—it also involves finding ways to reduce energy consumption and maximize efficiency. To that end, developers have come up with various strategies such as sharding and off-chain solutions that can help increase scalability while keeping costs low. Ultimately, though, determining how far a blockchain can scale will depend on its underlying architecture and protocols. Moving forward, innovators in this space must continue to find new ways to improve scalability while keeping costs low in order to make blockchains more attractive for mainstream adoption.
Cost and Energy Consumption
Although scalability is a key challenge for distributed applications, cost and energy consumption also need to be taken into account when discussing the viability of blockchain technology. Crypto mining, which requires significant computational resources and electricity to run miners and validate transactions, is associated with high costs. Additionally, the power consumption associated with running miners on a blockchain network can be substantial depending on its size and complexity. Thus, as more miners join the network to support greater transaction throughputs, the amount of electricity used will increase accordingly. This has led some organizations to explore alternative methods such as proof-of-stake consensus algorithms that do not rely heavily on crypto mining or require large amounts of energy consumption.
Ultimately, these considerations are important for developers looking to build blockchain applications as they must weigh both scalability and cost/energy requirements in order to ensure that their application is viable in the long term. To move forward with regulatory compliance, it is essential that developers understand these factors in order to develop an efficient yet secure system.
Regulatory compliance is a critical factor to consider when developing blockchain applications, as it has the potential to significantly impact the success of any given project. Adherence to legal and regulatory requirements is essential for protecting user data privacy and consumer protection. Achieving regulatory compliance requires an understanding of relevant laws and regulations that are applicable in different jurisdictions, as well as the development of appropriate measures to ensure compliance.
|Developing appropriate measures to ensure user data privacy.
|Understanding relevant laws and regulations in different jurisdictions.
By adhering to these requirements, organizations can better protect their users from potential risks associated with non-compliance while also creating a more secure environment for their customers. This transition seamlessly into blockchain standards, which provide organizations with guidelines on how best to achieve regulatory compliance within their respective industries.
Exploring the potential of blockchain technology requires understanding the importance of blockchain standards. With the rapid growth and adoption of blockchain technology, it is essential for organizations to have a clear set of rules and regulations which provide guidance for users and developers alike. Blockchain standards help ensure that all participants are working toward a common goal, as well as providing governance models for data privacy. Specifically, these standards provide:
- A unified approach to developing distributed applications (dApps)
- Guidelines on how data should be securely stored and accessed
- Protocols that outline how consensus can be achieved in a decentralized environment
- An agreed upon way to measure the performance of networks and protocols
Having an understanding of these standards helps organizations create secure solutions that are compliant with regulatory guidelines. Furthermore, they also act as a safeguard against malicious players by ensuring only valid transactions are executed on the network. By having established industry-wide standards, businesses can benefit from increased security and efficiency in their operations. As such, exploring blockchain standards is essential when considering its potential applications in various industries going forward.
The Future of Blockchain
As the potential of blockchain technology becomes more widely recognized, its future applications in various industries grow increasingly conceivable. In particular, its ability to create trust networks and secure data privacy has prompted experts to consider a wide range of applications beyond cryptocurrency. For example, blockchain could be applied to healthcare records management, property rights tracking and digital identity verification. It also has the potential to transform other areas such as voting systems, supply chain management and asset trading. With its secure infrastructure for creating trust networks across multiple parties without reliance on centralized authorities, it is possible that blockchain will become an integral part of many different industries in the near future.
The possibilities of blockchain technology are vast and exciting; however, there are still numerous questions about how it works and how it can be used safely and effectively that remain unanswered. To help better understand these issues, it is important to look at common questions about blockchain as well as explore the implications of this innovative technology.
Common Questions about Blockchain
Given the complexity of blockchain technology, it is unsurprising that many have questions about its implications and usage. Most commonly asked questions include: 1) what are the risks associated with smart contracts?; 2) how scalable is blockchain technology?; 3) what are the security benefits of using blockchain?.
When considering the risks associated with smart contracts, one must consider both technical and legal elements. From a technical perspective, there are potential coding errors that can lead to unintended consequences when executing a contract. Legal considerations involve issues such as jurisdiction and enforceability of terms in different parts of the world. Blockchain scalability is constantly evolving as developers look to new technologies such as sharding to increase transaction throughput without sacrificing decentralization or security. Finally, blockchain offers significant security benefits due to its distributed ledger system which makes it virtually impossible for an external actor to manipulate data within the network. As discussions around these common questions continue, more insight into the potential impact of this revolutionary technology will be gained. This knowledge will provide support for companies developing innovative solutions through blockchain technologies and services in the near future.
Blockchain Technologies and Companies
Examining the application of blockchain technologies and services in the business world has revealed a growing number of companies dedicated to this innovative field. Decentralized organizations have emerged that are committed to developing new solutions for blockchain based products and services such as cryptocurrency exchanges, smart contracts, and digital ledger technology. Interoperability challenges remain as significant obstacles to the effective implementation of these technologies by businesses. However, recent advancements in interoperability standards have provided some progress towards a more unified approach for distributed applications. As a result, many companies now offer comprehensive enterprise-level blockchain solutions designed to address specific needs in various industries. In addition, numerous startups are entering the market with innovative approaches and ideas for leveraging blockchain technologies in different sectors. From retail and finance to healthcare and energy, numerous organizations are actively seeking ways to leverage these powerful tools for their own benefit. With so much potential still untapped, it is likely that we will see continued growth from existing providers as well as an influx of newcomers in this rapidly changing landscape of blockchain technology. This highlights the importance of staying informed about emerging trends within this ever-evolving sector through events and conferences dedicated to exploring advances in decentralized systems.
Blockchain Events and Conferences
Attending blockchain events and conferences is essential for staying up-to-date on the advances in decentralized systems. Blockchain technology has become increasingly popular over the past few years, with new players entering the market daily. This makes it difficult to keep track of the latest developments without attending industry events and conferences. At these events, experts from various fields come together to discuss topics related to blockchain technology such as interoperability, scalability, security protocols, crowdfunding campaigns, and more. Moreover, developers get a chance to present their work and get feedback from other professionals in the field.
Furthermore, attending blockchain conferences provides an opportunity to network with key people in the industry while also gaining access to valuable resources that can be used for further research or development purposes. Furthermore, most of these conferences include workshops which provide hands-on experience and knowledge about various applications of blockchain technology. Thus by attending blockchain events and conferences individuals can stay updated on all the recent advancements taking place in this rapidly growing sector of technology. To learn more about blockchain one should do extensive research online or connect with peers who are already familiar with its nuances.
How to Learn More About Blockchain
Studying blockchain technology requires an in-depth understanding of its fundamentals and complexities. This understanding can be gained through reading books, attending online courses, or participating in forums and webinars. Data storage is a key element of blockchain technology that needs to be understood before one can delve into the tech adoption process. Blockchain helps store data securely on multiple nodes in a network, making it highly reliable and difficult to tamper with. Additionally, it is important to understand the various use cases for blockchain across industries such as healthcare, finance, manufacturing etc., as well as the potential benefits associated with it. With this knowledge base in place, individuals will be able to take actionable steps towards getting started with blockchain technologies. Understanding the basics of how these technologies work provides an opportunity for people from different backgrounds to become involved in their application and growth.
Actionable Steps to Get Started with Blockchain
Gaining a comprehensive understanding of blockchain technology is the first step to taking actionable steps towards getting started with it. This includes gaining an understanding of the underlying concepts and principles of decentralized networks, trustless systems, and consensus-based protocols. By doing so, one can begin to identify potential uses for blockchain technology in their own field or industry. Taking a course on blockchain fundamentals is a good starting point for exploring how these concepts could be applied practically. Additionally, researching existing applications that are already being used can help provide clarity on the various ways in which blockchain is being used and adopted by companies around the world. Further research into new projects and initiatives that are being developed can also be beneficial in helping to understand how different stakeholders are approaching innovation with this emergent technology. Ultimately, taking actionable steps towards getting started with blockchain requires an investment in time to gain knowledge about its foundations and potential applications.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the risks associated with implementing Blockchain?
Data privacy and scalability issues can present risks when implementing blockchain, as confidential data is stored on multiple nodes that are decentralized. This could lead to potential security vulnerabilities. Additionally, blockchain networks may not be able to handle large volumes of transactions.
What are the differences between public and private Blockchains?
Public blockchains are open networks that anyone can join, while private blockchains are restricted networks that require permission to access. Public blockchains have advantages such as interoperability and improved security, but they also have scalability issues. Private blockchains provide better scalability and increased privacy, but lack the same level of interoperability as public ones.
Are there any governmental regulations concerning Blockchain?
Legal implications of blockchain technology have been widely discussed, particularly in regards to privacy issues. Governments are currently exploring potential regulations related to its use.
What are the security measures for a Blockchain system?
Blockchain system security is ensured through the use of crypto assets and digital signatures. These create a secure, decentralized environment to validate transactions and protect data from malicious actors.
How do Blockchains interact with other technologies?
Blockchains interact with other technologies, such as smart contracts and distributed ledgers, to provide a secure and transparent platform for data storage. By combining these two technologies, blockchain is able to create an immutable record of transactions that can be safely shared between all participants.