BlockChain FAQ's

1What is BlockChain
Blockchain is the core technology behind bitcoin. At its heart is a distributed data store. Anyone who participates in this network has their own data store that stores all of the transactions that ever happened on the network (this is also known as the distributed ledger). Entries are stored within a cryptographic chain of blocks. At every stage, the network of participants must agree about the latest block of transactions. Agreement is reached through a process of majority consensus, eliminating duplicate entries, double spending etc. This process and the cryptographic layering of the blocks makes the agreed blockchain irreversible and immutable. The ‘history’ of events within this technology cannot be modified by any one of the participants without majority consensus from the group.
2What Is A Private Blockchain?
Private blockchains are deployed either within an organization or shared among a known group of participants. They can be limited to a predefined set of participants. In this case, no one else can access them or the data residing in them. They can be secured in a similar way to securing other integrated enterprise applications (e.g. firewalls, VPN etc).
3How Is This Related To Ethereum?
Ethereum is a group of incredibly smart individuals who have developed the next generation of cryptocurrency. The Ethereum project involves a large single network (much like Bitcoin), and runs on a cryptocurrency that can be mined (Ether). We are looking at deploying private networks of the Ethereum (or similar) within organisations, or across small predetermined groups of organisations.
4How is blockchain traceability similar or different from traditional traceability systems?
Blockchain is an infrastructure with characteristics amenable to greater adoption among supply partners than existing traceability tools. It is similar to existing traceability systems in that its goals are to increase interoperability and data availability on your food supply chain. The primary difference comes from blockchain’s ability to decentralize data housing and rely on encryption for data verification and assurance. Blockchain is also different compared to other traceability systems in that all partners have a copy of the shared ledger. Because all of the information is on the same record complete with timestamps, those who need access for an event, such as a recall, can increase the speed of a traceback investigation.
5Why is Blockchain technology relevant?
Compared with traditional database technologies and centralised systems, Blockchain implementations can be cheaper and require considerably less IT investment to maintain. In addition, because of its application in creating resilient, hacker-proof records, lots of initiatives have been proposed for registries using Blockchain. For example, within the Public sector it can affect government-maintained registries e.g. Blockchain-based tracing of donations from donor to recipient to ensure the money goes where it is needed. “Almost every major financial institution in the world is doing Blockchain research at the moment, and 15% of banks are expected to be using Blockchain in 2017.”
6What about Mining?
Mining is used a proof of work for participants in the blockchain. Whenever a block of transactions is to be agreed, every participating node attempts to ‘mine’ the block (a mathematical algorithmic process that requires extensive CPU capacity). In public blockchains successful mining is rewarded with a cryptocurrency token.
7What is the history of Blockchain?
The first distributed Blockchain was then conceptualised by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008 as the core component of the digital currency Bitcoin, where it serves as the public ledger for all transactions. The words block and chain were used separately in Satoshi Nakamoto's original paper in October 2008, and when the term moved into wider use it was originally block chain, before becoming a single word, Blockchain, by 2016. Although associated with and used by Bitcoin, Blockchain technology will be applied to multiple sectors and industries.
8How does Blockchain link to Bitcoin?
The first major Blockchain innovation was Bitcoin, a digital currency experiment. The market cap of Bitcoin now hovers between $10–$20 billion dollars, and is used by millions of people for payments, including a large and growing remittances market. Blockchain for Bitcoin meant that it was the first digital currency to solve the double spending problem, without the use of a trusted authority or central server. Bitcoin, (the digital asset) is used like other assets in exchange for goods and services. Unlike traditional currencies and assets, Bitcoin is easily portable, divisible, and irreversible. The benefit is that Bitcoin increases system efficiency and enables the provision of financial services at a drastically lower cost, giving users more power and freedom. There is no central intermediary as there is no regulation around Cryptocurrency.
9How will Blockchain affect the world?
So how will Blockchain affect the day to day digital world? There are so many applications that are attracting significant investment across multiple sectors and that Blockchain could disrupt. Companies are keen to invest so that they become the disruptor, not the disrupted.
10Some Examples include:
Financial Services – This is attracting the biggest investments due to the size and scale of opportunity in financial transactions Property: Reducing time and admin costs and also fraud, by keeping records on the Blockchain – which provides an audit trail. Music Streaming: There are several start-ups leveraging Blockchain to change how music will be distributed and shared and how royalties will be paid Voting: Using the Blockchain individual votes can be audited with greater transparency Healthcare: - Patient records could be stored on the Blockchain without the worry about records being changed. Recruitment: Technojobs have partnered with APPII to introduce Verified Career profiles – your CV can be verified by your Educational Institutions and Employers. Find out more here.
1Can I add blockchain to my current traceability system? If so, how and how difficult will it be to do so?
Yes, blockchain can be added to current traceability systems. A blockchain can almost be thought of as an encryption protocol with a networked component. The source code is available from many blockchain vendors and are customizable enough to complement your current system. However, the availability of vendors for implementing blockchain at the moment are small consulting companies and the direct creators of the blockchain software (e.g. Ethereum and Hyperledger).
2Can my current traceability software provider simply add blockchain? What traceability practices do I have to have implemented at a business process level in order for blockchain to be beneficial?
It depends on your traceability provider, the flexibility of the proprietary software, and the blockchain architecture you choose. If your traceability system hosts its own data, it would be relatively straightforward to transition to a blockchain. However, if your current provider has an all-inclusive system including their own data depository, it may be difficult to implement a blockchain. For a blockchain to be beneficial, traceability systems and data need to be digitized to be added onto it.
3Will Blockchain help my internal operations, or is it only for external/ supply chain traceability? Can blockchain scale to meet the traceability needs of a broad supply chain network?
Blockchain can help internal operations by having a sustained chained record of tracking events of your supply chain. Internal links can be logged into the blockchain database, though most blockchain architectures focus on external traceability. Blockchain solutions for supply chains are designed to be scaled to meet the needs of a broad supply chain network.
4If I want to get started with Blockchain, what should I do?
Evaluating your systems for blockchain is similar to evaluating your business practices for implementing other traceability systems. These assessments include: evaluating your current traceability technology, assessing how your traceability information is currently stored and documenting, evaluating critical tracking events, understanding your current IT infrastructure, and evaluating your IT personnel capabilities to assess whether you will need external consulting or whether in-house staff may be able to independently implement open-source blockchain code.
5I am a small company with limited resources. Is blockchain something I should consider or is this something more geared to bigger companies? How can blockchain help a fisher, grower, or rancher? What are the benefits for those businesses?
At this time, investing in blockchain will most likely not benefit a smaller business, such as a fisher, grower, or rancher, any more than a traditional traceability system. Until blockchain providers become more prevalent, investments should be made in traditional traceability systems for smaller food companies. Larger companies, especially retailers, may start requiring inputting traceability data onto their blockchain system, but smaller companies’ investments would be modifying existing data exchange procedures.
6How many more resources, e.g. time, manpower, and costs, are required to manage blockchain traceability vs. the more traditional programs available today? What kind of technical infrastructure must underpin a blockchain?
The resources required to manage a blockchain traceability are similar to pre-existing traceability solutions other than specialized labor. Because of the newness and promise of blockchain, the skillset required to manage blockchain solutions have a premium. Blockchain expertise has elements of information security, system administration, and supply chain management. The costs of implementing a blockchain depend on the scale and configuration of your current system. If you have a skilled IT team, you may be able to implement an open-source blockchain solution as an internal project without need for external vendors.
7How secure is business data in a blockchain?
The record on a blockchain is theoretically immutable to change. Sensitive or non-public information can be protected through the use of smart contracts, but this has yet to be put into practice outside of financial institutions.
8How quickly can a recall take place? Is speed of a recall still dependent on pulling affected product off the shelf? How can Blockchain help my business react faster to food security issues? Examples?
If a product is on a blockchain architecture, traceback queries can be reduced to a matter of minutes or even seconds. This is because the blockchain has already verified the information links along the supply chain. However, a blockchain is not necessarily unique to this speed. A centrally housed traceability system by an external vendor can also have a fast recall response time. Walmart’s blockchain pilot with Hyperledger has reduced their recall procedure times down to seconds, albeit in a couple of select product types.
9Does transparency mean everyone can see my data? How does blockchain protect proprietary information?
Transparency is a concern in a distributed ledger system. The philosophy of many blockchain innovators is to have as much transparency as possible, which may not be among the goals for a food supply chain. Many blockchain architectures are set up so that every transaction’s contents can be seen throughout the network. While this may be good for a vertically integrated distributor, those whom want to protect certain data may have “smart contracts” within a blockchain that governs the accessibility of information. This idea is still under development among blockchain vendors and consulting firms.
10Who establishes the governance model for determining what users may or may not join the blockchain ledger?
Blockchain governance is determined by those setting up the system. Changes to the governance can take place through voting similar to the resolving algorithms of transaction consensus.

Blockchain is poised to change IT in much the same way open-source software did a quarter of a century ago. And in the same way that Linux took more than a decade to become a cornerstone in modern application development, Blockchain will take years to become a lower cost, more efficient way to share information between open and private networks. Because blockchain is based on a distributed, peer-to-peer topology where data can be stored globally on thousands of servers – and anyone on the network can see everyone else's entries in real-time – it's virtually impossible for one entity to gain control of or game the network.

But the hype around this seemingly new, secure electronic ledger is real. In essence, blockchain represents a new paradigm for the way information is shared and tech vendors and companies are rushing to figure out how they can use the distributed ledger technology to save time and admin costs. Numerous companies in 2017 began rolling out pilot programs and real-world projects across a variety of industries - everything from financial services to healthcare to mobile payments and even global shipping. It's unlikely to be a wholly disruptive technology that attacks traditional business models with a lower-cost solution that overtakes other networking technology quickly, according to Karim Lakhani, a professor of business administration at the Harvard Business School. Instead, Blockchain is a foundational technology, with the potential to create new foundations for economic and social systems, Lakhani said in The Truth About Blockchain, which he co-authored. In simple terms, blockchain isn't going to replace the corporate relational database, but it will create a new paradigm for transactional data within (and outside of) global enterprises.