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Betting big on Blockchain

 Financial institutions  embrace the security it provides -- even as crypto-currencies  like Bitcoins,  harness it  to provide an alternative to traditional   global payment channels
By Vishnu Anand
July 17 2017: Internet of Things, Virtual Reality , Artificial Intelligence, Deep Learning --The latest entrant to  the growing list of   technology buzzwords is Blockchain. Popular,  mainly because it promises provides a solution to the Achilles Heel of online transactions – trust and transparency – Blockchain is today redefining financial business across the world.
In essence it is a type of distributed ledger in which transactions are sequentially grouped into blocks. Each “block” is “chained” to the previous block and recorded across a network, using secret coding. Each block contains a timestamp  and a link to a previous block.  A Blockchain is  usually managed by a  peer-to-peer network  where everyone adheres  to a protocol for validating new blocks.  Hence by its very  design, Blockchains are  protected against  modification of the data. Once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be altered later  without the alteration of all subsequent blocks and the consent of the network.
All this is good news  for secure financial transactions. So it is no surprise that the hype  around  Blockchain is mainly  focused on  financial services which are as yet testing its waters: Tomorrow, we will see   invoices  w pay themselves when a shipment arrives or share certificates   automatically sending  their owners dividends if profits reach a certain level.  There are many   other exciting applications -- like music distribution, identity verification, title registry etc.|
Blockchain drives Boitcoins
Outside  the enterprise and business arena,  the  biggest  and indeed,  the first application of Blockchains,  has been in the Bitcoin business.
Bitcoin is a new  form of global, borderless currency that was created in 2009 by an unknown person  who used the pen name "Satoshi Nakamoto". Bitcoin transactions are made with no middle men   ie no banks.  Hence there are no transaction fees and no need to give your real name. You can buy  a lot of things these days, with Bitcoins:  from webhosting services to ( in the US), pizza.  The attraction  is   you can buy merchandise anonymously.. let us say you are an AIDS patient and don't want everyone to know you are buying AIDS medication.  ( it is another matter that its very anonymity is making Bitcoin the preferred currency of the underworld).
 In addition, international payments are easy and cheap because Bitcoins are not tied to any country or subject to regulation.  Bitcoins are the commonest in a growing category of money known as cryptocurrency. Every Bitcoin transaction is powered by blockchain in the backend.|
Some experts believe that, thanks to Blockchain technology, financial fraud will be significantly reduced as all financial data will be recorded in an open, public distributed ledger than can be accessed by anyone with an internet connection.  The World Economic Forum forecasts that in the next 10 years, Blockchains will become a global decentralized source of trust, that will seamlessly allow countries to collect taxes, and individuals across the world to transfer money without the involvement of intermediaries, most of whom work for financial gains.

In India
 Malaysia-based blockchain technology firm,  Belfrics, has launched its Indian Bitcoin exchange operations.   The company which is currently present in Singapore, Malaysia,  Kenya and  Hong Kong,  promises to  will provide a highly liquid marketplace for buying and selling of bitcoins in  Indian rupees. With  demonetization, the interest in the digital currency has increased  in India. Belfrics is set to tap the largely unbanked Indian population by providing a simple peer-to-peer digital currency trading platform through desktop and mobile devices. Said CEO Praveen Kumar: “The element of neutrality that the Blockchain can bring to the financial system, without the involvement of an intermediary or a regulatory body, is going to redefine the way in which assets are transacted.”  Belfrics says it  will be partnering with public and private institutions in India to effect a large-scale Blockchain adoption.

Bitcoin mining
Nobody owns Bitcoin, like nobody owns email. People  send Bitcoins to each other over the Bitcoin network all the time, but unless someone keeps a record of all these transactions, no one would be able to keep track of who had paid what. The Bitcoin network  achieves this by collecting all of the transactions made during a set period into a list, called a block. It’s the miner's job to confirm those transactions, and write them into a general ledger. Miners  pool their resources together while splitting the reward equally according to the amount of shares they contributed to solving a block.
GBMiners started in  2016, are the biggest Bitcoin mining pool from India and biggest  outside China.  GBMiners founder  Amit Bhardwaj controls 5% of the global Bitcoin mining power making him arguably, the most powerful bitcoin miner across the globe.  He  is quoted saying India is just waking up to mining and once it catches up with regular individuals it will be huge.
With the global financial and technology industry embracing Blockchain with open arms, career options related to Blockchain are mushrooming, especially in India where companies are actively involved in path-breaking Blockchain R&D and solution creation.
|According to Lovleen Bhatia, CEO and Co-Founder of Edureka, India’s leading edu-tech player, “From a career standpoint, financial services companies and Fintech start-ups have started recruiting Blockchain specialists in hordes. Take a casual look at your LinkedIn feed and you will notice that the number of openings for Blockchain-related jobs have tripled in the last year or so. As a technology, Blockchain has the potential to help financial institutions slash costs by around $20 billion by 2022. This obviously unlocks career opportunities in the area for a long time to come.”

Indian Blockchain startups
In India, new entrepreneurial start-ups dedicated to innovations in Blockchain are emerging as mass recruiters for relevant skills. These start-ups in turn are helping spread the wings of Blockchain to a diverse range of industries. Professionals with financial background as well as hardcore tech folks have started understanding and learning the intricacies of Blockchain.
Take a look at companies like Coinsecure (which calls itself India’s Bitcoin exchange), or RecordsKeeper, a centralized storage repository for enterprises built on Blockchain, or Psi Phi Global, a company dedicated to offering ‘crypto lockers’ to store and share documents using Blockchain. These are just few of the many Indian start-ups that are leveraging Blockchain to create applications and services for an array of industries. Of course, there are the industry biggies that are betting big on Blockchain as something that will dramatically change the way we transact on line.|
However you look at it – as a tech enthusiast or a career seeker – blockchain will blossom,  in the days to come.

 




    


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