Blockchain technology is one of the many great disruptions this year. But what does it do? How does it work? And what application can it have for the marketing and communications industry? This article explores the creation of blockchain technology, and the impact it has on media and communications.
A matter of increased security
Born as a result of the development of Bitcoin (a form of cryptocurrency), blockchain technology currently makes up what is considered the most secure online payment platform that guarantees total anonymity and is instantly exchangeable.
The rise of hacking and identity theft incidents mean that all online payments might be vulnerable to being compromised by hackers or other security threats. Blockchains solve the security issue using peer-to-peer technology – this decentralises the recording of a currency transaction, instantly copying to a decentralised virtual network, known as a block.
A heavily encrypted version of every subsequent transaction involving that currency is also recorded on top of that, forming a chain.
In other words, instead of having one centralised record that’s vulnerable to attack, blockchains create multiple encrypted recordings of every transaction. The combination of cryptography and blockchain technology ensures there is no duplicated recording of the same transaction. And, because successful hacking would involve gaining access to every single encrypted version of a transaction, they’re virtually impossible to compromise.
What blockchain could mean for media and communications
While the applications of blockchain technology are most obvious in the financial industry, it’s likely that all other industries, including media and communications, will be affected.
For example, digital technologies today (such as the internet) have transformed how content is produced and distributed, but there are still several challenges relating to how digital content can be copied and freely shared over the internet.
Currently, several brands (including newspapers, publishers and authors) are charging fees for access to their digital content, but this is often off-putting to consumers who more often than not, can search for similar content elsewhere for free.
Blockchain technology could have an important role to play in streamlining and protecting intellectual property rights, by connecting these brands directly to consumers who compensate them accordingly (and securely) for access to digital content.
The potential for blockchain technology use also extends beyond payments. Because a blockchain is public ledger that records a history of every transaction, a potential application is to use the technology to ensure authenticity and transparency.
For example, social media influencers required to capture a video or photo at a certain time can prove that they have indeed done so. Authors, videographers and photographers can also use blockchains for provenance and attribution.
The applications for blockchain technology currently seem almost limitless, and while it’s still not yet prevalent in Australia, it’s likely that, given time, significant