The blockchain is all the rage right now and the technology is set to be disruptive across a whole range of services and industries.
The technology advances database development by recording and storing every transaction that occurs across a network (the so-called distributed ledger).
A complete explanation of the technology is not appropriate in this forum. However, blockchain technology works, in essence, by all parties’ respective computers agreeing on how this information should be stored on the database using a consensus mechanism. Once agreed, this information is then rendered unchangeable with the help of intricate cryptography, thereby creating an irrevocable and auditable transaction history and proof of ownership.
Financial services would appear to be a clear winner from such technology, and the ASX has announced a partnership with Digital Asset Holdings, a US-based technology firm, to investigate the viability of blockchain replacing its current clearing and settlement platform.
But there are myriad other applications of blockchain technology. For example, one version of the blockchain technology offers a 'smart contracts' app, where protocols are coded into the app to verify and execute contracts, largely removing the need for lawyers in human form to monitor enforcement and compliance.
In fact, one of the nation's top-tier law firms recently warned of disruption in a report suggesting business models were under threat as the role of lawyers in intermediating commercial negotiations and disputes was automated by computers.