Blockchain is a term that is used to describe what is essentially a decentralized database. It is a type of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT). Other forms of decentralized systems exist, but blockchains remain the most popular, due to its association with Bitcoin and the origins of cryptocurrencies.
Blockchains consist of multiple blocks of data, that are linked together to form a chain. Its most valued properties are immutability and transparency. No new information can be verified that is in contradiction with previously verified data, and data cannot be changed without causing severe changes to the network. Transaction fees are also extremely low, which is an important factor in persuading incumbent financial institutions to adopt the technology for their own purposes. Blockchains can be either permissioned or permissionless, and different projects take different approaches on how their networks are governed.
Blockchain’s strengths have caused it to be quickly considered by many major companies, as well as smaller ones seeking to leverage the advantage for their own growth. However, given the relative newness of the technology, several technical limitations must still be overcome before the technology can reach a global scale. Chief among these is scalability, which determines the number of processes that can be transacted simultaneously or at least without significant delay.
User-friendliness is another important issue to be tackled. To achieve mass adoption, experts in the field believe that the technology must be manifested in an accessible form, and this is another issue that several projects are tackling, which includes the development of the much vaunted decentralized apps (dapps).
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