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Goldman itself was one of the key hype men, declaring in December that the technology “can change well everything. For those not up to speed, blockchain is a database protocol developed to underpin bitcoin. Rather than having a central record keeping system, identical records are spread across everyone connected to a network. They are all updated simultaneously and transactions only go through when enough parties on the network sign off on them.
This technology eliminates the need for costly middle men in financial transactions, but also presents plenty of other opportunities for new ways of record keeping and decentralising markets. The bank has examined the technology’s application in 5 markets. Use case: Store people’s online identities on the blockchain. That identity is then linked to reviews and scores on the sharing economy and other marketplace sites — a little like with Facebook.
People can easily check to see if you’re a trusted host by checking your ID number. Unlike Facebook, people can’t simply delete accounts and re-register if they get a bad rep as records on the blockchain can’t be tampered with or duplicated. Goldman says: “P2P lodging sites like Airbnb have already begun to transform the lodging industry by making a public market in private housing. By enabling a secure, tamper-proof system for managing digital credentials and reputation, we believe blockchain could help accelerate the adoption of P2P lodging. Use case: Instead of having a central power provider which sends electricity to everyone’s house and workplace, Goldman envisions a distributed network, built on blockchain’s technology, that lets people generate their own electricity to sell on the network, using blockchain’s identifying tech to buy and sell to strangers. The fact that all transactions are signed off by the network means you can’t get screwed over by a customer who goes back and says they didn’t buy from you — it’s right there in the blockchain records. The bank says: “With the advent of rooftop solar and high-capacity battery technology, individuals can potentially act as distributed power providers.