Blockchain The revolution that hasn’t quite happened

Blockchain has struggled to find a purpose, beyond powering cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.

In that scenario, the blockchain acts as a universal record of every Bitcoin transaction ever made. The blockchain is a ledger, or log, of those transactions and users on the network collaborate to verify new transactions when they occur. They’re rewarded financially for this effort – an enterprise known as “Bitcoin mining”.

But the basic idea, of a ledger of information distributed around lots of different users instead of held centrally, has provoked a lot of interest.

Proponents have long argued it could be a better alternative to traditional databases.

The question is, how transformative would blockchain-style substitute can it really be? The shop tills example was suggested by Dave Birch, an author and advisor on digital financial services, who has been critical of some proposed blockchain schemes in the past.

“I’m prepared to buy that,” he says, of the tills idea. “I think there’s some value to it.”