SINGAPORE (Feb 26): In the last 12 months, with its rise, fall and rebound, the cryptocurrency bitcoin has virtually hijacked blockchain technology. As at Feb 18, the total market capitalisation of cryptocurrencies in issue, according to CoinMarketCap, is US$460 billion ($607.6 billion). Bitcoin is mined using blockchain, a type of distributed ledger technology (DLT).

International Business Machines Corp (IBM) has taken a forward stance in developing blockchain and DLT for business. The tech veteran has teamed up with Linux to form Hyperledger, an open-source collaborative effort created to advance cross-industry blockchain technologies. In April 2017, Australia and New Zealand Banking Corp and Westpac Banking Corp partnered with IBM and Scentre Group, which owns and operates Westfield malls in Australia and New Zealand, to successfully pilot a blockchain solution that could replace the current paper-based bank guarantee process. This was done on the Hyperledger platform.

Blockchain is a shared, immutable, distributed ledger — distributed across nodes, locations, countries even — that is decentralised in nature, eliminating the need for an intermediary to process, validate or authenticate transactions. It is forged by consensus, combined by “smart contracts” and other technologies. The name blockchain refers to how “blocks”, which contain transaction records, are added to the chain. To make the chaining of blocks possible, the blockchain uses a cryptographic signature, known as a hash, hence making it a distributed ledger.

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