Digital assets are the foundation of the new economy. They represent stakes in services like prediction markets, micro-payments, smart contracts, remittance, games, distributed computing and others. Digital assets with largest market capitalisation include Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin, Monero, Dash, MaidSafeCoin, NEM and of course ICONOMI.
A blockchain is a data structure that makes it possible to create a digital ledger of
transactions and share it among a distributed network of computers. It uses cryptography to
allow each participant on the network to manipulate the ledger in a secure way, without the need
for a central authority.
The blockchain format was first used for bitcoin, as a solution to the problem of making a database both secure and widely distributed. Blockchain technology backs up Bitcoin to this day, but there has been a recent groundswell of interest from a variety of industries in making distributed ledger technology work. A blockchain is the structure of data that represents a financial ledger entry, or a record of a transaction. Each transaction is digitally signed to ensure its authenticity and that no one tampers with it, so the ledger itself and the existing transactions within it are assumed to be of high integrity. Once a block of data is recorded on the blockchain ledger, it’s extremely difficult to change or remove. When someone wants to add to it, participants in the network, all of which have copies of the existing blockchain, run algorithms to evaluate and verify the proposed transaction. If a majority of nodes agree that the transaction looks valid - that is, the identifying information matches the blockchain’s history - then the new transaction will be approved and a new block added to the chain.
A blockchain’s network can include everyone with a computer or a small group of known entities
that agree to participate. Each computer in a particular network is called a node. In its ideal
state, each node has a copy of the entire ledger, similar to a local database, and works with
other nodes to maintain the ledger’s consistency. That creates fault tolerance, so if one node
disappears or goes down, all is not lost. The network protocol governs how those nodes
communicate with one another.
The blockchain architecture allows a distributed network of computers to reach consensus without the need for a central authority or middleman. A good example is in financial services, where trades are often verified by a central clearing house that maintains its own central ledger. Using that process, it can take days to settle a transaction, and the clearing house typically collects some kind of fee.
Blockchain technology could eliminate that clearing house by giving each bank in the network its own copy of the ledger. A common network protocol and consensus mechanism would allow the participants to communicate with one another. Using this method, transactions could be approved automatically in seconds or minutes, significantly cutting costs and boosting efficiency.
Bitcoin (BTC) is the original cryptocurrency that still represents over 80% of the cryptocurrency market capitalisation.
Ether (ETH) is a currency of a decentralised platform that allows developers to create decentralised applications and smart contracts.
Monero (XMR) is a privacy-centric cryptocurrency that uses advanced transaction cloaking techniques.
MaidSafecoin (MAID) is the token used on the Maidsafe Network, which is a decentralised data storage network.
GameCredits (GAME) is a gaming currency based on Bitcoin that aims to replace existing in-game purchasing options and mechanisms.
Steem (STEEM) is building decentralised content and media distribution platform, promising to disrupt publishing and distribution businesses. Community building and social interaction are awarded.
Digital Cash (DASH) is a digital currency based on Bitcoin that includes faster transactions and enhanced financial privacy.
Augur (REP) is a decentralised prediction market to exchange value when forecasting event outcomes based on the 'wisdom of the crowd' principle.
Factom (FCT) provides a data layer for blockchain applications featuring real-time audits and instant data verification.
Lisk (LSK) is a public blockchain platform that provides decentralised blockchain apps with their own separate blockchain, solving the scalability challenges.
ZCASH (ZEC) is a cryptocurrency focused on privacy and anonymity that features untraceable transactions.