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What is Blockchain Technology? [Explained]

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31st Oct, 2018
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What is Blockchain Technology? [Explained]

If ‘Blockchain’ is the word you’re hearing a tad too much nowadays, then by now you must have understood that the latest hype behind Blockchain technology is real. Blockchain has emerged as one of the hottest buzzwords of the tech world today. In fact, in just the past one year, there’s been a 250% increase in the Google search requests for the word ‘Blockchain.’ Companies and organizations around the world are embracing this pioneering technology to shape and enhance their business operations.

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Blockchain trends
But, let’s move over this hype for a sec, and focus on the question – What is Blockchain?

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What is Blockchain?

The brainchild of Satoshi Nakamoto, Blockchain came to the spotlight in 2009 with its first major application – Bitcoin. While Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, Blockchain is the technology that resides at its core. In simple words, Blockchain is an open-source, distributed ledger capable of recording and storing information (primarily financial transactions) which is then secured by unique cryptographical designs. As the name suggests, the Blockchain infrastructure is made up of numerous ‘blocks,’ each of which contains the transaction data, a timestamp, and the link (cryptographic hash) to the preceding block.
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This unique and innovative design makes Blockchain a safe space for data – the data cannot be deleted, modified, manipulated, or misused in any way. Another crucial aspect of Blockchain technology is that it is consensus-oriented which further reduces the possibility of data being manipulated or misused. Its design is such that a large number of computers (nodes) are connected over a network. So, every time one wishes to add a transaction to a blockchain, he/she must solve a mathematical test, the results of which are shared with all the machines connected to the network. Only when every computer on the network mutually agrees on the result can the user add transactions to the chain. Furthermore, in Blockchain, data is never stored in one particular location, thereby, making it harder for cybercriminals to access it. Blockchain is, thus, the first technology that facilitates the transfer of digital ownership in a decentralized manner.
These features are what make Blockchain so appealing to the magnates of the tech world. Now that we’ve answered what is Blockchain, arises the question – How to become a Blockchain expert?

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How To Become A Blockchain Expert?

As more and more companies and institutions adopt the Blockchain technology, the demand for skilled and qualified Blockchain professionals is also escalating rapidly. Bloomberg maintains that in 2017 itself, the number of Blockchain related job postings increased by four times on LinkedIn.

So, there’s never been a better time to launch a successful career in Blockchain! However, to become a Blockchain Expert, you must first develop the skill set required for this technology.

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Get Acquainted With Blockchain Architecture

When working with Blockchain technology, it is needless to say that, you must possess a thorough understanding of Blockchain and its innate architecture. This means that you must be well-versed with Blockchain concepts like cryptography, cryptographic hash functions, distributed ledger technology, consensus, decentralized consensus, smart contracts, and trusted computing, to name a few. This first step is crucial to building a strong foundational knowledge in Blockchain technology.

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To get an in-depth understanding of the working of Blockchain, you can read this whitepaper on Bitcoin.

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Learn How Cryptocurrency Works

Since Blockchain’s star application is cryptocurrency (Bitcoin), you must know how the system works. There are numerous platforms such as Coinbase and Coinmama where you can learn how to handle cryptocurrency and digital transactions. All you need to do is to register on any of these platforms (choose one that is accessible in your country) and purchase coins. Take baby steps and start by purchasing a few coins first. Build your portfolio as you go.
Since your primary focus here is to learn the process, you do not need to buy a lump sum amount of coins. For small transactions, online wallets are the best choice. As you continue to make purchases using your wallet, the idea of how digital financial transactions are conducted using cryptocurrencies will gradually become clear to you.

Data Structures and Cryptography

Just as data structures are an integral part of coding, so it is also a fundamental aspect of Blockchain technology. As a matter of fact, Blockchain uses a combination of data structures and cryptography to create a secure and robust environment for data. Thus, to become a Blockchain expert you must build a solid grasp on data structures and cryptographic designs and functions including hash functions like MD5, CRC32, and SHA1.

Web Development

Web development is a pivotal aspect of Blockchain technology. In fact, Blockchain developers and experts often begin their career with building and designing decentralized applications. This entails that a Blockchain expert must possess both front-end and back-end development skills. As a Blockchain developer, you will be expected to be well-versed in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Ruby, PHP, and Python, among others. So, make sure you brush up on these programming languages while honing your database skills as well.

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Know Your Platform

If you wish to become a Blockchain expert, merely understanding Blockchain architecture and concepts will not suffice – you must know your platforms well. Choosing the right Blockchain platform that’s best suited for a particular task is the mark of a great Blockchain expert. So, get ready to dive deep into the various Blockchain platforms like Fabric, Ethereum, Ripple, and R3 Corda. An in-depth knowledge about these platforms will help you identify which platform will work best for which use case.

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Why Should You Consider Transitioning To Blockchain Based Roles?

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As we said earlier, Blockchain is the hottest trend and buzzword in the industry right now, so opportunities in this domain are growing rapidly too. The foremost reason as to why you should consider transitioning to Blockchain is, of course, that it is exciting, innovative, and is here to stay. Tech giants like Facebook, IBM, Microsoft, Amazon, Goldman Sachs, and many more have already started harnessing the benefits of Blockchain. While the demand for Blockchain experts is ever-increasing, what’s lacking is the supply of befitting talent. There are not many people in this field, which makes it the perfect playing field for individuals who’re upskilling in Blockchain. Also, since there’s hardly any competition, the pay for most Blockchain jobs is huge.
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Blockchain is no rocket science. If you bear the passion for learning something new and exciting, then Blockchain should be yet another challenge for you to accomplish. Once you have a clear understanding of Blockchain technology, its concepts, and working, making a career transition to Blockchain shouldn’t be difficult. If anything, you’ll embark on the road to a promising future.

If you’re interested to become a blockchain developer and build smart contracts and chain codes, checkout IIIT-B & upGrad’s Advanced certificate program in blockchain technology.

Profile

Arjun Mathur

Blog Author
Arjun is Program marketing manager at UpGrad for the Software development program. Prior to UpGrad, he was a part of the French ride-sharing unicorn "BlaBlaCar" in India. He is a B.Tech in Computers Science from IIT Delhi and loves writing about technology.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1What are the benefits of using a cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrencies enable you to trade anonymously while also being able to deal with them securely. Its security is second to none, which also makes it the best option to trade. The trading fees are way lower when compared to traditional currencies. It is easier to access, as it is a digital currency. They may be moved from one person to another fast and simple. As a result, they're great for online transactions and payments.

2What are the risks of using a centralized cryptocurrency?

Using centralized cryptocurrencies comes with a number of concerns. One possibility is that the currency will be shut down or limited in usage by the central authority. Another option is that the central administration will be hacked, resulting in the theft of user monies. It may also be more challenging to use centralized cryptocurrencies for smaller transactions due to more significant costs than regular cryptocurrencies. Central authorities might also be more likely to restrict transactions or freeze user funds. In some limited situations, however, centralized cryptocurrencies may provide greater security and stability than regular cryptocurrencies.

3What is the future of cryptocurrencies?

Cryptocurrencies' future is still up in the air. However, there are signs that they will become more widespread and acceptable in the future. Some retailers, for example, are now accepting cryptocurrencies as a form of payment. There are also an increasing number of cryptocurrency exchanges where consumers can purchase and sell cryptocurrencies. Similarly, the number of people investing in cryptocurrencies is increasing. However, other experts feel that cryptocurrencies will be phased out in favor of more mainstream and regulated payment methods, such as fiat currencies. Nonetheless, cryptocurrency growth is expected to continue in the foreseeable future.

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