So, what is blockchain anyway?

With a number of blockchain pilots gaining widespread publicity in Australia and internationally, (including our very own pilot with CBH Group) our inboxes are flooded with questions about the technology behind bitcoin and ethereum. And the question of the month? What is blockchain anyway?

Well, we asked some of our team of farmers, software engineers and agribusiness professionals and here’s what they said:

“Blockchain is a peer-to-peer, append-only datastore that uses consensus to synchronise cryptographically secured data” — Nick, CTO

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“Blockchain sounds daunting and all about data, but it’s set to fundamentally change the way goods are exchanged. Transactions on a blockchain only progress when all parties involved collectively say ‘YES’ and agree to the transaction taking place.” — Katherine, Communications 

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“Blockchain can provide a solution that ensures no farmer or agri-commodity buyer has a counterparty default on a payment ever again. In addition to this, blockchain will revolutionise traceability by providing a wholistic solution for provenance where every farmer’s produce can be purchased by a consumer with complete and indisputable provenance information attached.” — Tristan, Operations Manager

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Blockchain is a technology for storing and sharing data which has certain features, like being distributed, cryptographically secure and immutable. Using these features we can build applications that provide radical transparency and change how power and trust is distributed throughout networks.” — Bridie, External Relations Manager

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“Blockchain is a distributed network of an agreed and common understanding of shared information” — Lucy, Iterations & QA

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At the moment, blockchain to me is like being given someone’s undisciplined but highly intelligent dog, capable of great things if you have a patient mind and a lot of ideas for putting it to work to make your life easier. However, if you stick with it you’ll soon be buying dog clothes, telling everyone you know about your dog and being that annoying person on Facebook who posts pictures of their dog 11 times a day.” — Brendan, Developer

 

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“To me, ‘blockchain’ means a distributed ledger in which groups of transactions are stored in ‘blocks’. These blocks are managed by a peer to peer network and by requiring a majority consensus to alter the blocks, a high level of immutability is achieved.” — Harrison, Blockchain Intern

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“Blockchain is a technology that facilitates the transfer of information, without the need for a designated person or people to check that the information sent and received are the same thing.” — Nathan, Corporate Intern

It seems blockchain means something a little different to us all, but a few things are clear: blockchain allows peer to peer transactions rather than relying on an intermediary; information is distributed throughout the network; data is stored in a way that is immutable; blockchain allows us to trust each other and transactions within the network; any changes to the state of the network require consensus among participants; and, perhaps most importantly, blockchain has enormous potential.