A blockchain is a decentralized, distributed electronic database shared across a public or private network.
As a database, it is a shared record of data. Records such as transactions are batched together into blocks, then verified, and approved by a network of distributed users called nodes via a consensus mechanism.
Each block of verified data carries a unique signature of data from the previous block, forming a chain of blocks, which store data in chronological order.
The information is secured by cryptography to ensure that the data cannot be altered.
Benefits of blockchains
Blockchains as shared ledgers can simplify a lot of operational workloads, as the source of truth is shared across all entities, cutting away middlemen and intermediaries.
They can offer much faster and easier access to information as everything is recorded in public, and can be queried just like any database.
They also offer far greater transparency compared to traditional databases, since transactions are permanent and cannot be censored by a central authority.
Key features of a blockchain
A blockchain typically has the following characteristics:
- Highly secure
In summary, blockchains are distributed ledgers that offer an immutable record of transactions. They bring accountability, trust and transparency needed to secure assets in the digital realm.