“The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.”
Don and Alex Tapscott: The Blockchain Revolution (2016)
Blockchain was defined many ways in the last years. The shortest and best definition would be something like Don and Alex Tapscott said in their book The Blockchain Revolution (2016): “The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.”
Blockchain technology makes it possible to send and store digital information representing unique and/or valuable things – such as money, land ownership, maintenance history of mission critical machinery, etc – in a way that is as fast and accessible as the internet, and as reliable as dealing with your most trusted allies.
It also supports the execution of multiparty processes, comprising several steps and bound to specific conditions, without any human intervention. These so called “smart contracts” can be as simple as buying goods from a vending machine, or as complex as buying a house which was mortgaged before, using bank loan.
The speed and reliability of blockchain technology is enabled by a new kind of record keeping system in which it is guaranteed that everybody has the same information and nobody can delete or modify any detail that has ever been recorded. And this is guaranteed without the need of a trusted third party.
This system is called “Distributed Ledger Technology” because it is like distributing an identical copy of the general ledger – containing all financial transactions of a bank or company – to every party involved in these transactions.
Blockchain technology is based on math and cryptography, which ensures that it is practically infeasible to tamper the system. It relies on algorithms based on decades of research and open to scrutiny by the whole scientific community.