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Smart contracts, dApps, and the rise of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Polkadot, Cardano, and more have spawned a new breed of use cases and services that run on public and private blockchains.
This new era of technology has taken the world by surprise, offering businesses, regulators, and ordinary users a chance to explore uncharted territories. A blockchain is a digital database distributed across a network of special computers called nodes. These nodes have a copy of the database and can seamlessly communicate. Anyone can join the network as a node operator and view the ledger's contents. In essence, a blockchain is a digital ledger that records and stores data, which can be seen and accessed by everyone in the network in real-time. This distributed model assures the trustworthiness of the data because it's impossible for one party to alter the data without the knowledge of other node operators, typically incentivized to keep the veracity of transactions.

How a Blockchain Works

Blockchain works by creating a network of computers that maintain a shared database. When a new piece of data, called a "block", is created, it's surrounded by a mathematical "hash" that makes it unique to that point in the network. Only the network can verify the data's accuracy if a block of transactions is needed. This verification mechanism is the "hash". It helps "chaining" the new block with the longer block of verified transactions, forming a blockchain. Once a block is "chained", it is impossible to reverse posted transactions. This is why all blockchain transactions in a public database are considered immutable. Notably, any alterations in the block's content would produce a different hash, alerting the network that data has been tampered with and is invalid. Its database will constantly grow as long as the network finds use and new blocks are added.

Blockchain Use Cases

Blockchain provides a secure and transparent platform for executing smart contracts. Smart contracts are pieces of code that automatically trigger when certain conditions are met. This minimizes the risk of fraud and reduces the cost of contracting. A blockchain can find application in regulatory compliance where it can find immense use in tracking assets, managing key processes, and auditing transactions. Furthermore, a blockchain can be used for storing data. As observed, publicly distributed blockchains provide a more efficient and secure way to store data. Stored data are openly and transparently accessible to all users. The blockchain can also find use in creating decentralized identity management systems. In this arrangement, the ledger can authenticate users, manage access to applications and store personal data. When integrated with an identity management system, the blockchain can be further used to keep data private. Data cannot be accessed or altered by third parties or organizations. At the same time, the blockchain can be used efficiently in supply chain management, where the technology can drastically improve logistics. Ordinarily, supply chains are complex and have many variables that make tracking challenging to use in traditional systems. This could make blockchain an appealing alternative.

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