Peter Van Valkenburgh: What Is “Blockchain” Anyway?

“Blockchain” has become a buzzword in the technology and financial industries. It is often cited as a panacea for all manner business and governance problems. “Blockchain’s” popularity may be an encouraging sign for innovation, but it has also resulted in the word coming to mean too many things to too many people, and—ultimately—almost nothing at all.

The word “blockchain” is like the word “vehicle” in that they both describe a broad class of technology. But unlike the word “blockchain” no one ever asks you, “Hey, how do you feel about vehicle?” or excitedly exclaims, “I’ve got it! We can solve this problem with vehicle.” And while you and I might talk about “vehicle technology,” even that would be a strangely abstract conversation. We should probably talk about cars, trains, boats, or rocket ships, depending on what it is about vehicles that we are interested in. And “blockchain” is the same. There is no “The Blockchain” any more than there is “The Vehicle,” and the category “blockchain technology” is almost hopelessly broad.

There’s one thing that we definitely know is blockchain technology, and that’s Bitcoin. We know this for sure because the word was originally invented to name and describe the distributed ledger of bitcoin transactions that is created by the Bitcoin network. But since the invention of Bitcoin in 2008, there have been several individuals, companies, consortia, and nonprofits who have created new networks or software tools that borrow something from Bitcoin—maybe directly borrowing code from Bitcoin’s reference client or maybe just building on technological or game-theoretical ideas that Bitcoin’s emergence uncovered. You’ve probably heard about some of these technologies and companies or seen their logos.

Aside from being in some way inspired by Bitcoin what do all of these technologies have in common? Is there anything we can say is always true about a blockchain technology? Yes.

All Blockchains Have…

All blockchain technologies should have three constituent parts: peer-to-peer networking, consensus mechanisms, and (yes) blockchains, A.K.A. hash-linked data structures. You might be wondering why we call them blockchain technologies if the blockchain is just one of three essential parts. It probably just comes down to good branding. Ever since Napster and BitTorrent, the general public has unfortunately come to associate peer-to-peer networks with piracy and copyright infringement. “Consensus mechanism” sounds very academic and a little too hard to explain a little too much of a mouthful to be a good brand. But “blockchain,” well that sounds interesting and new. It almost rolls off the tongue; at least compared to, say, “cryptography” which sounds like it happens in the basement of a church.

But understanding each of those three constituent parts makes blockchain technology suddenly easier to understand. And that’s because we can write a simple one sentence explanation about how the three parts achieve a useful result:

Connected computers reach agreement over shared data.

That’s what a blockchain technology should do; it should allow connected computers to reach agreement over shared data. And each part of that sentence corresponds to our three constituent technologies.

Connected Computers. The computers are connected in a peer-to-peer network. If your computer is a part of a blockchain network it is talking directly to other computers on that network, not through a central server owned by a corporation or other central party.

Reach Agreement. Agreement between all of the connected computers is facilitated by using a consensus mechanism. That means that there are rules written in software that the connected computers run, and those rules help ensure that all the computers on the network stay in sync and agree with each other.

Shared Data. And the thing they all agree on is this shared data called a blockchain. “Blockchain” just means the data is in a specific format (just like you can imagine data in the form of a word document or data in the form of an image file). The blockchain format simply makes data easy for machines to verify the consistency of a long and growing log of data. Later data entries must always reference earlier entries, creating a linked chain of data. Any attempt to alter an early entry will necessitate altering every subsequent entry; otherwise, digital signatures embedded in the data will reveal a mismatch. Specifically how that all works is beyond the scope of this backgrounder, but it mostly has to do with the science of cryptography and digital signatures. Some people might tell you that this makes blockchains “immutable;” that’s not really accurate. The blockchain data structure will make alterations evident, but if the people running the connected computers choose to accept or ignore the alterations then they will remain.

Bitcoin as Illustration

Explaining how this all works in Bitcoin provides a helpful example.

So, what are the connected computers in the Bitcoin blockchain technology? They are any devices on the Internet running Bitcoin-compatible software. That software could be a wallet app or it could be software for “mining” bitcoin. If, for example, you run a Bitcoin software wallet on your phone, then whenever you send or receive Bitcoin transactions your phone will be talking directly to any other nearby computers that are running Bitcoin software; it’s peer-to-peer. Some people are uncomfortable running important software on their personal devices and that’s reasonable because if you are not careful when you run that software, you could accidentally lose your bitcoins. So some people might use a Bitcoin wallet that is created and maintained by a company. In this case, the wallet app on your smartphone will talk to a server that the company maintains, and it’s that server that connects to the peer-to-peer network on your behalf.

What about the consensus mechanism in Bitcoin? Well, as with any consensus mechanism, it’s a series of rules written in computer code. To be compatible with the Bitcoin network any software you run on your Internet-connected device must follow these rules. If your software is modified to try and break the rules, then the messages it sends on the Internet will be ignored by all the other computers running honest, rule-obeying Bitcoin software.

There are a bunch of rules in the Bitcoin consensus mechanism, but we can highlight two of them here and transcribe them roughly from computer code into natural language:

  1. Nobody can send bitcoins that they have not first received from someone else or a coinbase transaction.
  2. Every 10 minutes one of the connected computers will be selected to choose the order of valid transactions for that period; that computer can write itself a coinbase transaction.

That first rule is pretty self-explanatory. It’s a rule against counterfeiting. The only exception is when someone sends themselves brand new bitcoins (known as a coinbase transaction) according to the network’s rules for new money creation. The second one isn’t very hard to understand either once we have some context.

Recall that the connected computers are talking directly to one another, and keep in mind that those computers could be anywhere in the world because it all works on top of the global Internet.

If some computers are in, for example, China, and others are in the U.S., it’s likely they will get out of sync because messages about transactions will originate in different parts of the world and propagate across the Internet at different rates. A connected computer in China might think the most recent transactions came in this order: A, B, C. While a computer in the U.S. may have seen them come in the reverse order C, B, A. How do we make sure all the computers agree on the order? Well, as rule 2 specifies, every 10 minutes one computer will be chosen to state the authoritative order of transactions for that period of time, and then another will be chosen, and so on. In computer science, this arrangement is called a repeated leader election, but unlike a normal political election, the periodic leader is simply chosen at random.

Notice also that our rule 2 specifies that the leader can only give the order of valid transactions. If the chosen leader tried to include a transaction where they gave themselves millions of counterfeit bitcoins, then they would have broken rule one. Their scammy messages are simply ignored by the rest of the computers as per the rules of the consensus mechanism.

The chosen leader can, however, write themselves a coinbase transaction that will reward them for their honest work in maintaining the network. This transaction creates new bitcoins out of thin air as a reward, but it must match a predefined money creation schedule (you can’t just choose the size of your reward). That money creation schedule is just another rule within the Bitcoin consensus mechanism software.

Finally, there’s Bitcoin’s shared data, its blockchain. This is just a list of all Bitcoin transactions that have occurred since the network started in 2009. Here’s a stylized illustration:

 Of course, the real Bitcoin blockchain has many more transactions in it, millions since the network started. Also, the transactions don’t have human-readable names in them like the illustration above suggests. Instead, the sender and recipient are represented by what’s called a public address. It’s a pseudorandom but unique string of letters and numbers that is generated locally on the smartphone or computer of a particular Bitcoin user. It looks like this, 1CPwNACt62wts2yGbz1vUuqeGD58SzzeAL, and the user’s device will also generate a matching secret key (another pseudorandom but unique string of numbers and letters) that must be used to sign transactions spending funds from that address. Think of it like a password. All in all, however, the blockchain is pretty simple in that sense, it’s just a list of transactions between addresses that’s presented in a way that makes it easy for computers to verify the data.

How Various Blockchain Technologies May Differ

What about other, non-Bitcoin blockchain technologies? Well, they all follow the same design pattern. They will have peer-to-peer networking, a consensus mechanism, and a blockchain, and they will enable connected computers to reach agreement over shared data.

There are two things that can differ from Bitcoin, however. The shared data may be different, and the consensus mechanism may be engineered with different design choices.

Here’s how the data can differ. Instead of being a list of bitcoin transactions, the shared data could be votes in an election, or identity credentials (think of it like a tokenized driver’s license or proof of a credit score). Or the data could be the current state of a running computation. In other words, the data could be related to a global computer that anyone is allowed to write and read data from; that’s one way to describe Ethereum, another open blockchain network inspired by Bitcoin.

The consensus mechanism could also be different than Bitcoin’s. These differences aren’t necessarily good or bad; remember that “blockchain” is like “vehicle.” Sometimes you might need a boat, other times a rocketship. Not all vehicles are good for all use cases.

There are three big design choices that might make the consensus mechanism different from Bitcoin’s. These tradeoffs and choices merit a much longer discussion, but here’s a basic overview:

  1. Open or Closed? Does the consensus mechanism allow anyone to join and participate, or is participation limited to identified parties on the network who were previously provisioned with an access credential by a company, consortium, or other central party that is creating or implementing the blockchain technology? In other words is it an open network (like the Internet) or a closed or permissioned network (like a company intranet)?
  2. Private or Transparent? Does the consensus mechanism privilege data privacy above data transparency and auditability? Or vice versa? To some extent, this is an iron trade-off. Recall that all the computers must reach agreement on the shared data. If the data was private to a handful of individuals then only those individuals on the network would be able to verify and agree on the data. There may be a way around this tradeoff in consensus design thanks to some new research into “zero-knowledge proofs,” and the launch of a new privacy-protecting public network called Zcash.
  3. Edge or Center? Does the consensus mechanism put security at the edge of the network or at the center? Open blockchain networks like Bitcoin have consensus mechanisms that push the responsibility for security to the edge, to the individual computers owned and controlled by users. So if you receive bitcoins on your smartphone using a software wallet, for example, your device is the only device on the whole network that can now spend those bitcoins. Without the secret key generated on your phone, the bitcoins can never move. This is in sharp contrast to pre-Bitcoin electronic payment systems where an intermediary like a credit card company could step in and reverse a transaction or move funds out of your account without needing you to take any action with your card or banking app.

    Having security at the edge may be a disadvantage for someone who loses their phone and failed make a backup of their credentials, but it’s also an advantage system-wide because there’s no longer a central party who could be hacked or be dishonest and thereby put everyone’s money or data at risk.

    Permissioned blockchain technologies retain some power at the center of the network because—at the very least—there will be one party who is relied upon to identity permitted member computers and provision them with an access credential.

Those are the primary possible differences between blockchain technologies. There’s still plenty of room for elaboration, details, and future possibilities, but hopefully, you’ve got a better handle on the fundamental architecture of these exciting new tools. Just remember, blockchain technology means that connected computers reach agreement over shared data.

Reprinted from Coin Center

Peter Van Valkenburgh


Peter Van Valkenburgh

Peter Van Valkenburgh is director of research at Coin Center.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

This entry was posted in Cryptoeconomics, Guest Post. Bookmark the permalink.

39 Responses to Peter Van Valkenburgh: What Is “Blockchain” Anyway?

  1. BorisG

    Interesting. But what is not clear: what does it have to do with money?

  2. Sinclair Davidson

    Money is an obvious use-case but the underlying technology is far more interesting.

  3. Herodotus

    Given the cleverness of black hat computer nerds, and the many instances of computer systems being hacked, how does one establish a level of confidence that the Chinese and North Koreans are not going to game the cryptocurrency systems? They must be working their bits and butts off to this end around the clock.

  4. hzhousewife

    Whatever happened to KISS?

  5. Tel

    … how does one establish a level of confidence that the Chinese and North Koreans are not going to game the cryptocurrency systems?

    That’s what Bitcoin mining is doing with all that electricity: it’s a formalized attempt to break the system. If any miner gets good at it, they get paid more, so the best hash breakers are always the most visible.

    They must be working their bits and butts off to this end around the clock.

    Just like the Bitcoin miners are.

  6. Aussieute

    When articles on Blockchain introduce Bitcoin the credibility of what’s presented takes a nosedive.
    Bitcoin would not exist without Blockchain, which will drive the next round of innovation.

    Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak says blockchain will change everyone’s lives the same way Apple did, declaring the nascent technology underpinning bitcoin will lead to an explosion in innovation.

    https://goo.gl/wwgNSF

  7. Dr Faustus

    how does one establish a level of confidence that the Chinese and North Koreans are not going to game the cryptocurrency systems? They must be working their bits and butts off to this end around the clock.

    With ~$0.3 trillion floating around in various environments, you can be assured that the world’s smartest nerds are piling up the empty coke cans and pizza boxes.

    It looks like the focus (or success) is on the miners and their wallets – the ‘systems’ – rather than the blockchains/cryptocurrency units. The equivalent of knocking off the bank, rather than forgery.
    And there seems to be enough success (and lack of official retribution) to keep the hackers frantic…

  8. eb

    Who makes Bitcoin? Why is the price going up? Can’t more be made to keep up with demand? Is there counterfeit Bitcoin?

    Those questions just for starters.

  9. struth

    What do you buy bitcoin with, initially?

  10. entropy

    The Woz is a true hippy that should never be actually in charge of anything beyond his personal lab.
    On apple though,is Apple pay an example of centralised block chain,while itunes accounts are not?

  11. Wil

    What happens if you die, and your password goes with you?
    How do you claim probate?

  12. Roger W

    First of all, many thanks to Peter for providing an easy to understand and (I’m assuming) accurate explanation of Blockchain and Bitcoin. As a retired teacher myself, it could be worth commenting that Sinc and a few others who have previously put up articles on the subject might learn some basic teaching techniques from it! (That is, if they thought they were clearly explaining the system to dunderheads like me.)
    A few questions, though. As a few others have mentioned, this does all seem to rely on the assumption that the system cannot be “gamed” in one way or another. Relying on the best hackers to always be swayed by greed may be a little naïve. In addition, I remember back in the late 1990’s, when my school was increasingly computerizing everything, it was decided that students could access from home. We were assured that the firewalls were utterly secure. It wasn’t long before the local equivalent of Ferris Bueller proved that wrong! We seem to have spent the last 20 years constantly being reminded that cast-iron assurances by computer experts are very ephemeral, to say the least.
    The most worrying idea, though, is that countries might think the system is so secure that it will enable on-line voting. The Sandra Bullock movie, “The Net”, is now 22 years old but could still be a little too close to reality? I know that the Deep State war against Trump is pretty amateurish at the moment but they might improve! And China is more interested in political control than a few million or even trillion in purely monetary gains.
    So I think we should still be very wary indeed. I still write cheques with a fountain pen and have never done internet banking, so I may be a bit of a dinosaur, but I never have to worry about my password being hacked either, because I don’t have one!

  13. Luke

    Thanks.

    As a public servant I’m sure I am going to hear the term blockchain getting thrown around widely by hucksters seeking to impress the clueless.

  14. a reader

    If that’s easy to understand I must be totally stupid. If a bitcoin doesn’t physically exist and I can’t go and get them out of a bank how can it possibly be a currency?

  15. Confused Old Misfit

    Finally! An explanation that I can comprehend! Still & all, I’ll beware the bitcoin I think. TANSTAAFL!

  16. classical_hero

    Whatever happened to KISS

    They were rocking and rolling all night and partying every day.

  17. closeapproximation

    And made for loving you.

  18. Rohan

    I understand that the blockchain is an online ledger for bitcoins or other cryptocurrencies. I know bitcoins are exchanged for items or services, just like a fiat currency.

    But apart from that, what is it good for? Where else is this alleged innovation going to be utilised. It’s not like its a physical technology derived from the space race, eg teflon, that will make you rich by manufacturing non-stick pots and pans or plumbers tape.

    So if that’s the only innovation, now what? Teflon has multiple uses. I can’t see blockchain technology having multiple uses in that regard.

  19. Aussieute

    Everyone should know these 14 things about blockchains

    Here is a list of things that everybody should know about blockchains. These facts will not only help you make better sense of this new technology, but it may even equip you for your next trivia hour or business exchange.

    • Blockchains can be public (like the internet) or private (like an intranet).
    • In terms of its development, blockchain is where the internet was 20 years ago.
    • Only 0.5% of the world’s population is using blockchain today, but 50% or 3.77 billion people use the internet.
    • There is significant investment by today’s tech giants such as IBM and Microsoft in blockchain technology. IBM dedicates $200 million and 1,000 employees to blockchain-powered projects. The average investment in blockchain projects is $1 million.
    • Over the last five years, VCs have invested more than $1 billion into blockchain companies.
    • The global blockchain market is expected to be worth $20 billion by 2024.
    • 90% of major North American and European banks are exploring blockchain solutions.
    • Blockchains are highly transparent, because anyone with access to a blockchain can view the entire chain.
    • Similar to a Google doc, all participants within a network see all changes to the ledger. The ledger is constantly updated and each participant has their own copy of it.
    • A blockchain is most vulnerable to a breach when it first come online.
    • 9 out of 10 agree that blockchain will disrupt the banking and financial industry. It is estimated that banks could save $8-12 billion annually if they used blockchain technology.
    • One-third of C-level executives are considering adopting or are using blockchain technology.
    • Just like with the internet, there will be jobs that become obsolete. But, there will be new careers that we haven’t even dreamed up yet that will be created as a result of the blockchain transformation.

    There are a few items in that list that I’m always wary of … VC’s funding technology for the sake of it, in the hope that it will be adopted and their bet will come home. I’m in the food and ag space and it’s rife with investment opportunities, for investors, not for the dumb farmers who can see through the smoke and mirrors.

  20. Kneel

    “I can’t see blockchain technology having multiple uses in that regard.”

    Velcro fasteners seemed the same at first – limited use, right? But the various ways people modified and/or used this technology sees it used in many places now – to replace shoe-laces and zippers for example, and “industrial” velcro that is essentially one use (and very strong). I’m sure there are plenty of uses and modifications of which I am unaware.
    So “blockchain”, by providing a distributed, trusted database, with no “central authority” – hmm, how many uses do YOU know of that require a central authority to verify your ID or the ID of some item you own? Plenty if you think about it, and not all are purely financial. Remember, this isn’t a financial technology per se, it’s a trusted ledger system without the need to find someone you can trust and who won’t rip you off.

  21. Fat Tony

    Can anyone tell me what happens to this crypto-currency (and all the other $$ etc held only in computer systems) when we have another Carrington type event?

  22. Fat Tony

    Kneel
    #2582761, posted on December 12, 2017 at 2:20 pm
    “I can’t see blockchain technology having multiple uses in that regard.”

    Velcro fasteners seemed the same at first – limited use, right?

    If I remember correctly, lasers were an invention looking for a use originally….

  23. flyingduk

    Can anyone tell me what happens to this crypto-currency (and all the other $$ etc held only in computer systems) when we have another Carrington type event?

    If the internet goes down, all of it, and forever, you will have a lot more to worry about than where your bitcoins went, given how pervasive it is in controlling all of the vital logistics of life

  24. Tel

    So if that’s the only innovation, now what? Teflon has multiple uses. I can’t see blockchain technology having multiple uses in that regard.

    The “git” version control system is a blockchain, roughly the same age as Bitcoin, got popular about 6 or 7 years ago (give or take a bit).

    So git can be used in a centralized manner (like github) or decentralized peer-to-peer. Git does NOT have a consensus resolution mechanism, although it does have conflict detection, although if you wanted to add your own consensus resolution you could do that. Git does NOT attempt to run any miners, nor is it meaningful to do so in the context of version control. Git does NOT have a mechanism to either hide or verify the user identity either, although since user identity is just an email address you can use plenty of other mechanisms like PGP if you feel like it.

    While “git” is not an accounting system, it can be used to store and verify your accounts along with a suitable tool that handled text mode line oriented input like so…

    http://plaintextaccounting.org/

    So yeah, there are lots of possible uses for blockchain, but they don’t all work like Bitcoin, nor is there any particular reason to expect that.

  25. Rohan

    Tel:

    So yeah, there are lots of possible uses for blockchain, but they don’t all work like Bitcoin, nor is there any particular reason to expect that.

    I wasn’t saying that it was going to be used exactly like bitcoin. I just have a hard time envisioning what else it could be used for.

  26. Rohan

    Kneel:

    So “blockchain”, by providing a distributed, trusted database, with no “central authority” – hmm, how many uses do YOU know of that require a central authority to verify your ID or the ID of some item you own

    Ok. So without a central Authority, who polices criminal activity? Bitcoin is used extensively as payment to purchase decryption keys for cryptolocker malware for example. Everyone is anonymous, 5 gazillion bit encryption and so on. IP addresses can be spoofed and are virtually untraceable run through multiple VPN connections.

    Conversely, where’s the ownus of proof that you acquired something through a crypto currency should it be stolen? There’s no central ID, no central Authority.

    And yes I understand the data miners figure it out but so what? By that time they figure it out and post a block chain, the criminals have laundered it through a multitude of other accounts, cash it in against hard currency. Thanks for coming.

    And the fact that the value of bitcoin is going through the roof against the greenback, is based entirely on the magnetic alignment of particles on a SAS drive and little else. It still smells like a Ponzy scheme to me.

  27. Tel

    So without a central Authority, who polices criminal activity?

    The Bitcoin blockchain consists of transactions and hashes … end of story. It has no conception of “criminal” activity.

    But you know, an ounce of gold or silver does not “police” anything either. It’s a lump of metal. Strangely that was good enough for humanity for some tens of thousands of years. If a pirate had a gold earring then it was still just the same gold.

  28. BorisG

    I’m sure there are plenty of uses and modifications of which I am unaware.

    Like New York bomber.

  29. Bad Samaritan

    a reader (12 Dec 11am)

    You are an old-fashioned guy so here’s what you do….

    You go get some pretty beads and get stuff from Bitcoin fans by swapping them for whatever it is the Bitcoin fans are offering. You tell them it’s the newest “crypto”, which actually is true. You get a house for 50 beads, or an island in New York for 80 beads, or the like. However…whatever you do, don’t call them beads or tokens or jetones or anything so old-fashioned as that. Especially don’t call them IOUs. Don’t laugh at them as they hand over real expensive stuff for the beads. Don’t shake your head like you pity them!

    So long as you find enough rubes to agree that the beads are very very very valuable, you’ll be OK. Hope this helps.

    Another thing; be hip. Coolness is a major attribute when the time comes to fleece smartarse bumpkins, Got it? Cheers.

  30. JohnA

    The chosen leader can, however, write themselves a coinbase transaction that will reward them for their honest work in maintaining the network. This transaction creates new bitcoins out of thin air as a reward, but it must match a predefined money creation schedule (you can’t just choose the size of your reward). That money creation schedule is just another rule within the Bitcoin consensus mechanism software.

    When I read this, I thought “Yet Another Fiat Currency”.

    The only difference is that it is private individuals creating “coins” rather than governments or central banks.

    Bitcoin or cryptocurrencies generally do not have the intrinsic nature of traditional definitions of money as a store of value since there is no physical substance involved like metal or conch-shells.

    True, they have utility as a medium of exchange – closer to a baby-sitting club exchanging hours between parents – but that is all, so far. If a club like that folds, there is no external “value” that can be taken away and used elsewhere. Likewise, if Bitcoin collapses there is nothing left but a few electrons…

  31. Diogenes

    When I read this, I thought “Yet Another Fiat Currency”.

    There is a finite number that can be mined. It is 21 million (actually one 1/50th of a BTC less than 21 million ), and the last one will mined some time in 2040.

  32. EvilElvis

    I really can’t see the value in a blockchain that you can’t wrap around some dirtbag and push off of a wharf.

    Onwards nerds with this latest and greatest! I’ll happily regress technologically for the remainder of my term.

  33. JohnA

    Diogenes #2583384, posted on December 13, 2017 at 9:29 am

    When I read this, I thought “Yet Another Fiat Currency”.

    There is a finite number that can be mined. It is 21 million (actually one 1/50th of a BTC less than 21 million ), and the last one will mined some time in 2040.

    Yes, but that does not change the fiat nature of the process. It merely limits the operation to some definable mathematical range.

  34. harrys on the boat

    I’ve heard that there’ll only be 2.1 billion bitcoins, not 21 million. Either or, there is a finite number.

    Another issue similar to the electricity use to mine bitcoin, is the server space needed with blockchain on transactions.

  35. struth

    I have not really been interested in block chain for the simple reason, I am cynical of government.
    There is no benefit to blockchain unless governments can’t force control of it, and tax it, and the likelihood of that happening is so low as to disinterest me in reading about it until proven otherwise.

    Those that go ahead thinking it is may be in for a rude shock, is my guess.

    Governments not profiting from their slaves, not a chance.

    They’ve already determined trading in them “assets” to be declared, so why should I bother reading about this?

  36. flyingduk

    They’ve already determined trading in them “assets” to be declared, so why should I bother reading about this?

    you remind me of my dad, in 1973, saying he was perfectly happy with B&W TV!

  37. Bad Samaritan

    JohnA (8.51am); Far too sceptical.

    My guys in Lagos (a whole bunch of Nigerian Princes who contacted me via E-mail one day….out of the blue) have got my stash of Bitcoins in an electronic “vault” over there. All I had to do was send my life savings via an electronic transfer and then I got a load of Bitcoin at a 25% discount to the market rate. Every so often when they ask for another few thousand bucks they send a screen-shot of my pile in that vault; in the ledger. Naturally I just sent the past couple of weeks’ wages to secure my future. Who wouldn’t?

    Ya can’t lose since you get ’em cheap, and they are always going up in price. Man, and no tax. How good is that, eh?

    Get aboard John, before Train # 21 Million, or else Train # 2.1 Billion (depends which Prince you ask; see harry @ 10.57am) leaves the station. Cheers, and all the best.

  38. flyingduk

    I have not really been interested in block chain for the simple reason, I am cynical of government.

    100% correct! Despite being a government minion, I came back from my 2nd tour of Afghanistan fully enlightened about how government can fcuk you over and ruin your life. I looked for ways to hedge that risk. I bought ‘guns gold n bitcoin’. It was a very serendipitous decision. The blockchain can free you from government tyranny. I am now financially independent, but I have also had the opportunity to look into the whole concept of the blockchain. This is the real deal. This is the new economy. Bitcoin is only one ‘app’ that it can run. It will take over everything. This is as big a change as youtube/facebook/google was over the fax machine. Get on the bus, or get under it!

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