What is blockchain?

Updated 17 November 2017
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What is blockchain?

Blockchain is an electronic record-keeping system — often referred to as an electronic ledger — that uses cryptography to create verifiable histories of transactions. It was developed as an Internet-linked exchange for the trading of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. The coins themselves are not physical objects, nor even digital files, but entries in the blockchain ledger: Owning bitcoin is merely having a claim on a piece of information sitting on the blockchain. Identities are protected by clever cryptography; beyond that the system is entirely transparent. As well as keeping track of who owns bitcoin today, the blockchain is a record of who has owned every bitcoin since its inception. Units of currency are transferred from one party to another as part of a new “block” of transactions added to the existing chain — hence the name. In the world of business, there is more enthusiasm for what are described as private or “permissioned” blockchains, open to a controlled group of trusted and vetted users who either preserve and maintain the network collectively or use a centralized organization that oversees the entire system — making it bulletproof in terms of protection against tampering and fraud.


UAE, Saudi Arabia optimistic world trading system can be restored, says survey

Updated 24 min 45 sec ago
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UAE, Saudi Arabia optimistic world trading system can be restored, says survey

  • Three quarters of respondents hopeful of 'working order'
  • Trade disputes cloud horizon in emerging markets

LONDON: More than three-quarters of respondents in the UAE and Saudi Arabia said that the troubled global trading system can be restored to “working order,” according to a survey.
Only 27 percent thought the system would be restored ‘soon’, while 49 percent said it would be a more ‘long-term’ recovery, the Bloomberg research published on Oct. 22 found.
More than half of those surveyed in the two Gulf countries were optimistic that trade will grow in the next five years, with only 26 percent saying there would be less trade over that time period.
The survey findings come just days after the director-general of the World Trade Organization, Roberto Azevedo, urged action to be taken to avoid “serious harm” to the global trading system, in a speech in London on Oct. 17.
A continuing trade dispute between China and the US has led to the two countries imposing a series of tariffs on various imports.
The survey found that 65 percent of Saudi and UAE respondents said they were learning about new technologies to prepare for the future economy, while a similar proportion were learning new skills and taking professional courses.
Global governance issues were viewed as the most critical issue challenging the future of trade, according to the respondents.
The global survey also found there was a divide in opinion between business leaders in the emerging markets and those in developed countries.
Almost two-thirds (63 percent) of emerging market business professionals said they believe there would be more trade in five years, compared to just 36 percent in developed markets that felt the same way.

“The survey reveals vast differences in perceptions for the future and highlights the need to bring together global leaders in business and government to find private-sector led solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges,” said Justin B. Smith, chief executive officer, Bloomberg Media Group.