Disclosure statement Paul Levy owns shares in CATS3000 Limited. University of Brighton provides bitcoin code of ethics as a member of The Conversation UK.
The Conversation UK receives funding from Hefce, Hefcw, SAGE, SFC, RCUK, The Nuffield Foundation, The Ogden Trust, The Royal Society, The Wellcome Trust, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and The Alliance for Useful Evidence, as well as sixty five university members. It’s the technology that underpins digital currencies and ensures that all transactions are properly conducted and recorded. Essentially, by providing a distributed means to guarantee and verify transactions, the blockchain offers the ultimate opportunity to cut out the middleman. A key aspect is the programmable smart contract: code stored on the blockchain that automatically executes when certain conditions have been met. Is a blockchain marriage legally binding?
Well, some parts of it would fall within contract law, but it’s a first symbolic step. Many major companies are looking to the blockchain as a way to simplify and strengthen supply chains, where the blockchain could record each step a product has taken. For example, it could be used to guarantee the origin of foods. In other cases, the blockchain can be used for peer-to-peer exchange or sale.
Imagine you have an electric car. When your charger is unused, you can rent it out to other car owners, paid in bitcoins via a blockchain smart contract. Another use is automated security, using code embedded on the blockchain to trigger granting or denying access depending on the requester. One firm supplying this is Slock. Decentralising everything A radically different application comes from Bitnation, a project aimed at using blockchain to decentralise governance.