What is a Blockchain?

Blockchain technology became popular in the 2010s with the advent of Bitcoin. In this system, blocks of data are linked together like a chain, which provides security by making it seemingly impossible to go back and change a transaction without breaking the remainder of the chain. At first, it was used only as a way to record transactions, but now it is used to manage many different types of information and to track assets all over the world.

With a blockchain, you can trade or track anything of value—like a cryptocurrency or an original piece of digital art. It’s unique because it combines a distributed ledger database with a peer-to-peer network. This means that the digital record and work of maintaining it is shared among a network of unrelated computers, with every transaction visible to every person on the network. Participants agree to the validity of each transaction prior to recording it on the blockchain, and after an agreement is reached, no records can be reversed or changed. Because of this structure, the system can operate without the involvement of a central authority like a government or a third-party intermediary like a bank.