The Blockchain breaks old chains

Bitcoin may remain just a passing phase. However, the Blockchain technology for the cryptocurrency has what it takes to become a revolution. The dubious whistle-blower platform Darkleaks shows what’s possible.

Beat Hochuli

The number of “peer-to-peer revolutionaries” is increasing daily and start-ups relating to the Blockchain concept are springing up like mushrooms. Above all in the finance industry, the decentral transaction technology is triggering feverish activity: for example, UBS is establishing a specialised research centre in London and in the south-east Asian financial metropolis Singapore, people are digging deep. The globally active technology incubator Startupbootcamp Fintech is aiming to ensure that the Lion City on the equator becomes the undoubted Asia-Pacific hub of the Blockchain revolution.


Trusted “Smart Contracts”

But why this euphoria surrounding the foundation on which the cryptocurrency Bitcoin is based? In principle, it is nothing more than a giant log or general ledger, in which all transactions made by all Bitcoin members are registered and summarised in blocks that are strung together – nothing particularly spectacular, one might think. “Completely wrong!” the enthusiasts protest – and they’re right. Blockchain is completely decentral and is not stored on any Internet server. Every Bitcoin user has access to the entire log on his or her client, and this is continuously updated to the latest status. As this means that every transaction can be seen and checked by all users, a purchase contract verifies itself, so to speak – securely and with integrated encryption. This creates trust between those involved and exactly this is the point that Blockchain fans are so fascinated by. This is because, apart from quick and easy exchange of information of every type, they are imagining a future with “Smart Contracts” – intelligent validly signed contracts that practically ensure themselves that they are adhered to through digital supplementary technology. This would mean that no trusted bank, trust company, lawyer or state agencies would be required any more.

“This will also make Blockchain-based e-voting possible, which will greatly exceed the current solutions when it comes to security.”
From whistle-blowing to e-voting

The recently launched whistle-blower platform Darkleaks provides an initial impression of the potential of this technology. Via this platform, those with access to secrets can sell information of all types anonymously – that’s right, sell: they are rewarded with Bitcoin amounts. This is, of course, controversial and is likely to draw all kinds of dubious characters. But it will be impossible to stop. The platform makes use of the fact that any information can be attached to even the smallest unit of Bitcoin and sent via the peer-to-peer network in encrypted form. This procedure is known as “colouring”. It can be used to process every possible digital transaction securely and in a trustworthy manner. This will also make, for example, Blockchain-based e-voting possible, which will greatly exceed the current solutions when it comes to security. The correctness of the vote can be subsequently checked in the chain and – as with the dubious Darkleaks – anonymity is still guaranteed.


Beat Hochuli

is a freelance ICT journalist and lives in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.