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Blockchain — FAQ

Block­chain is ano­t­her invi­si­ble tech­no­lo­gy giant hea­ding into the digi­tal future. Worldwide, work is being done on indi­vi­du­al solu­ti­ons rela­ted to block­chain. The pace is breath­ta­king. If you are not care­ful, digi­tal demen­tia is about to be threa­tened here. The fol­lowing lines can bring – right com­pact – a litt­le light into the darkness.

Blockchain tech­no­lo­gy was first deve­lo­ped for Bitcoin, a pri­va­te digi­tal money sys­tem. Blockchain tech­no­lo­gy takes over the func­tion of a regis­ter in which money tran­sac­tions can be stored secu­re­ly. This tech­no­lo­gy can be used far bey­ond Bitcoin.

Since then, block­chain tech­no­lo­gy has been fur­ther deve­lo­ped by a lar­ge num­ber of indi­vi­du­als and orga­niz­a­ti­ons around the world and expan­ded for other app­li­ca­ti­ons. The pos­si­bi­li­ties of block­chain tech­no­lo­gy are not limi­ted to simp­le money trans­fers bet­ween pri­va­te indi­vi­du­als. On the con­tra­ry, it offers the pos­si­bi­li­ty for a wide ran­ge of eco­no­mic services.

The deve­lo­p­ment of infor­ma­ti­on tech­no­lo­gy has always had a major impact on the finan­cial sec­tor. In par­al­lel with the per­for­mance of com­pu­ters, its ran­ge of app­li­ca­ti­ons in finan­cial ser­vices has also deve­lo­ped and the effi­ci­en­cy and per­for­mance of finan­ce has gra­du­al­ly incre­a­sed. In addi­ti­on to the expo­nen­ti­al growth in com­pu­ting power, com­pu­ter tech­no­lo­gy has enab­led some other grass­roots inno­va­tions that have a major impact on pri­va­te life and the economy.

These basic inno­va­tions inclu­de the inven­ti­on of the Internet and the smart-phone, which make it pos­si­ble to access and share infor­ma­ti­on from any­whe­re. In addi­ti­on, the­re are offers such as the favor­able and scala­b­le avai­la­bi­li­ty of high-performance com­pu­ters and data stores, as well as major advan­ces in the field of arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence, which are accom­pa­nied by the per­for­mance enhan­ce­ment of the computers. 

These deve­lo­p­ments, which are usual­ly sum­ma­ri­zed as a digi­tal revo­lu­ti­on or digi­tiz­a­ti­on, have made fun­da­ment­al­ly new busi­ness models possible.

In the finan­cial sec­tor, the­se com­pa­nies are sum­ma­ri­zed under the term “fin-techs.” Since the late 1990s, the fin-techs have adap­ted or sup­por­ted more and more pro­ces­ses in the finan­cial sec­tor: While the focus in the begin­ning was more on pay­ment ser­vices (e.g. Paypal), later the credit sup­ply of indi­vi­du­als and small busi­nes­ses Financing of start-ups and com­pa­nies (crowd len­ding, crowd investing).

However, the­se types of fin-techs usual­ly still use the tra­di­tio­nal finan­cial mar­ket infra­st­ruc­tu­re (bank accounts, pay­ment infra­st­ruc­tu­re, etc.). The deve­lo­p­ment of cryp­to­cur­ren­cy, on the other hand, leads away from the tra­di­tio­nal tran­sac­tion sys­tem. Cryptocurrency (such as Bitcoin) is a digi­tal means of pay­ment crea­ted using the princi­ples of cryp­to­gra­phy. The con­cept and imple­men­ta­ti­on of Bitcoin in 2008 set in moti­on a deve­lo­p­ment who­se effects are hard­ly ful­ly estim­a­ble today.

Bitcoin’s inven­tor wan­ted to crea­te a money-making and pay­ment sys­tem that goes com­ple­te­ly without government cur­ren­ci­es, cen­tral banks and state-controlled banks. In doing so, he had several pro­blems to sol­ve. On the one hand, mone­ta­ry sta­bi­li­ty had to be ensu­red. He sol­ved this by set­ting the maxi­mum limit of the money sup­ply crea­ted and clear rules on how new money is being crea­ted. Another set of topics was the secu­re assign­ment of money to a per­son, the secu­re trans­fer of money as part of a pay­ment pro­cess and – asso­cia­ted with this – the avo­id­ance of the copy of the money (dou­ble spen­ding problem).

For this pur­po­se, he has crea­ted the so-called block­chain, a tran­sac­tion pro­to­col that is inten­ded to ensu­re equi­va­lent or bet­ter secu­ri­ty with the help of encryp­ti­on tech­no­lo­gy (cryp­to­gra­phy) without cen­tral midd­le­men (cen­tral bank or bank). It is essen­ti­al that the inte­gri­ty of the tran­sac­tion pro­to­col is gua­ran­te­ed pure­ly by tech­no­lo­gy, while in the ban­king sys­tem a midd­le­man (finan­cial inter­me­di­a­ry) must ensu­re this inte­gri­ty. The log­ging, encryp­ti­on and sto­rage of the tran­sac­tions only take place via the Internet.

In con­trast to today’s pay­ment sys­tem, in which each par­ti­ci­pant (e.g. a bank) keeps their own led­ger and has to match this with their inter­faces (e.g. cor­re­spon­dent banks) at a defi­ned time, the block­chain has only one led­ger, but it does Stored on all par­ti­ci­pa­ting com­pu­ters as a copy. It is the­re­fo­re also refer­red to as the tech­no­lo­gy of the decen­tra­li­zed led­ger tech­no­lo­gy or “dis­tri­bu­t­ed led­ger tech­no­lo­gy” or “DLT” for short.

Bitcoin has spread and evol­ved wide­ly sin­ce laun­ching in 2008. Due to the high incre­a­se in value in recent years, it is incre­a­singly used by spe­cia­list inves­tors as an invest­ment pro­per­ty (cryp­to asset). Due to the fact that Bitcoin does not know the hol­der of the money, Bitcoin is also repeated­ly cri­ti­ci­zed for being used for cri­mi­nal pur­po­ses (e.g. money laun­de­ring, ran­som demands).

The first genera­ti­on of block­chain deve­lo­ped for Bitcoin also has some pro­blems that make it dif­fi­cult for the broad eco­no­my to deploy, such as high ener­gy con­sump­ti­on or rela­tively low tran­sac­tion capa­ci­ty. Some of the­se pro­blems have alrea­dy been sol­ved intel­li­gent­ly by the newer genera­ti­ons of block­chain sys­tems. In view of the inno­va­ti­ve power used world­wi­de for the fur­ther deve­lo­p­ment of the block­chain, it can be assu­med that the future genera­ti­ons of the block­chain will sol­ve the out­stan­ding pro­blems in a time­ly manner.

Blockchain is about a new soft­ware tech­no­lo­gy based on mathe­ma­ti­cal models to effi­ci­ent­ly hand­le tran­sac­tions. Barter tran­sac­tions have always been the basis of the eco­no­my – the simp­lest form is the pri­va­te exchan­ge of a good for money through per­so­nal con­ta­ct and con­tract. Specialist tra­ding sys­tems have been set up in order to be able to exchan­ge goods over the distance bet­ween two par­ties that do not know each other direct­ly. Examples inclu­de pay­ment sys­tems and secu­ri­ties tra­ding systems.

In the­se clas­sic tra­ding sys­tems, the con­nec­tion bet­ween buy­er and sel­ler is estab­lis­hed via one or more inter­me­di­a­ries and the tran­sac­tion is hand­led legal­ly secu­re. For this, howe­ver, a high degree of stan­dar­di­z­a­ti­on and high deman­ds on the qua­li­ty of inter­me­di­a­ries are requi­red. For qua­li­ty assuran­ce and to crea­te trust, the­se are super­vi­sed by the sta­te. Each inter­me­di­a­ry keeps a led­ger for its­elf in order to secu­re­ly record the tran­sac­tions and to ensu­re the assign­ment to the customers.

The coor­di­na­ti­on of the­se various main books, inter­nal pro­ces­ses and government over­sight are bur­den­so­me, which is why the­se tra­ding sys­tems are worthwhile only for cer­tain assets.

The block­chain, on the other hand, offers a tran­sac­tio­n­al sys­tem that does not requi­re the qua­li­ty assuran­ce of inter­me­di­a­ries (midd­le­men) and without government over­sight. Quality is backed up through a com­bi­na­ti­on of encryp­ti­on tech­no­lo­gies, the pos­si­bi­li­ties of the Internet and software-based rules for pre­ven­ting abu­se. Technology and clear rules thus crea­te the necessa­ry trust in a block­chain to car­ry out secu­re transactions.

The most visi­ble genera­ti­ons of block­chain today are based on the princip­le of the decen­tra­li­zed main book (DLT), in which all par­ti­ci­pants in the tran­sac­tion sys­tem store a copy of the same main book in which all tran­sac­tions are depic­ted and Use qua­li­ty assuran­ce. However, this does not have to be cru­cial for all future genera­ti­ons. Common to all will be the absence of a cen­tral inter­me­di­a­ry for qua­li­ty assuran­ce of the main book. In a block­chain sys­tem, the­re­fo­re, the tra­di­tio­nal super­vi­so­ry approach (e.g. finan­cial mar­ket super­vi­si­on) is missing.

This main fea­ture pla­ces block­chain sys­tems as basic tech­no­lo­gy clo­se to the Internet pro­to­cols (e.g. TCP/IP), which form the basis of today’s Internet and also the basis for busi­ness models, but even by no inter­me­di­a­ry direct­ly Operated.

Because the clas­sic approach to a tra­ding sys­tem is bur­den­so­me and expen­si­ve, today only limi­ted assets are tra­ded on the­se sys­tems. Blockchain tech­no­lo­gy will signi­fi­cant­ly redu­ce access cos­ts. It can the­re­fo­re be assu­med that a much wider ran­ge of assets will be tra­ded on such infra­st­ruc­tu­re and can be used as a basis for eco­no­mic pro­ces­ses and rela­ted services.

The block­chain then takes over the func­tion of a pay­ment sys­tem tog­e­ther with the user inter­faces (e.g. wal­let app on a smart-phone). This infor­ma­ti­on is cal­led “tokens” on cer­tain sys­tems, in refe­rence to the English term for a pri­va­te embos­sing coin or “value mark.” There are block­chain sys­tems such as Bitcoin, in which this infor­ma­ti­on is not tech­ni­cal­ly desi­gned as a token, but the term sym­bo­li­zes the inde­pen­dence and trans­fe­ra­bi­li­ty of this information.

The tech­no­lo­gy of block­chain sys­tems ensu­res that this infor­ma­ti­on is clear. It is the­re­fo­re not tech­ni­cal­ly pos­si­ble to make copies. As a result, block­chain tech­no­lo­gy meets the ide­al requi­re­ments for the digi­tiz­a­ti­on of money, assets and intel­lec­tu­al property.

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AIF Alternativ Invest Finance AG | c/o Blockchain Fund
Giessenstrasse 2 | 9491 Ruggell | Liechtenstein