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With the invention of Bitcoin in 2008, the world was introduced to a new concept, Blockchain, which revolutionized the whole of society. It was something that promised to have an impact upon every industry. This new concept is the underlying technology that underpins Bitcoin. 

Blockchain technology is the backbone of cryptocurrencies, and it has applications in finance, government, media, and many other industries.  

Some describe blockchain as a revolution, whereas another school of thought believes that it is going to be more evolutionary, and it will take many years before any practical benefits of blockchain reach fruition. This thinking is correct to some extent, but, in Imran Bashir’s opinion, the revolution has already begun. It is a technology that has an impact on current technologies too and possesses the ability to change them at a fundamental level. 

Let’s hear from Imran on fundamentals of blockchain technology, its myths and his recent book, Mastering Blockchain, Third Edition.

What is blockchain technology? How would you describe it to a beginner in the field?

Blockchain is a distributed ledger which runs on a decentralized peer to peer network. First introduced with Bitcoin as a mechanism that ensures security of the electronic cash system, blockchain has now become a prime area of research with many applications in a variety of industries and sectors 

What should be the starting point for someone aiming to begin their journey in Blockchain?

Focus on the underlying principles and core concepts such as distributed systems, consensus, cryptography, and development using no helper tools in the start. Once you understand the basics and the underlying mechanics, then you can use tools such as truffle or some other framework to make your developer life easier, however it is extremely important to learn the underlying concepts first.  

What is the biggest myth about blockchain?

Sometimes people believe that blockchain IS cryptocurrency, however that is not the case. Blockchain is the underlying technology behind cryptocurrencies that ensures the security, and integrity of the system and prevents double spends. However, cryptocurrency can be considered one application of blockchain technology out of many.     

“Blockchain is one of the most disruptive emerging technologies today.” How much do you agree with this?

Indeed, it is true.  Blockchain is changing the way we do business. In the next 5 years or so, financial systems, government systems and other major sectors will all have blockchain integrated in one way or another 

What are the factors driving development of the mainstream adoption of Blockchain?

The development of standards, interoperability efforts, and consortium blockchain are all contributing towards mainstream adoption of blockchain. Also demand for more security, transparency, and decentralization in some sectors are also key drivers behind more adoption, e.g., a prime solution for decentralized sovereign identity is blockchain.  

How do you explain the term bitcoin mining?

Mining is a colloquial term used to describe the process of creating new bitcoins where a miner repeatedly tries to find a solution to a math puzzle and whoever finds it first wins the right to create new block and earn bitcoins as a reward.   

How can Blockchain protect the Global economy?

I think with the trust, transparency and security guarantees provided by blockchain we can perceive a future where financial crime can be limited to a great degree. That can have a good impact on the global economy. Furthermore, the development of CDBCs (central bank digital currencies) are expected to have a major impact on the economy and help to stabilize it. From an inclusion point of view, blockchain can allow unbanked populations to play a role in the global financial system. If cryptocurrencies replace the current monetary system, then because of the decentralized nature of blockchain, major cost savings can be achieved as no intermediaries or banks will be required, and a peer to peer, extremely low cost, global financial system can emerge which can transform the world economy. The entire remittance ecosystem can evolve into an extremely low cost, secure, real-time system which can include people who were porously unbanked. The possibilities are endless.  

Tell us a bit about your book, Mastering Blockchain, Third Edition?

Mastering Blockchain, Third Edition is a unique combination of theory and practice. Not only does it provides a holistic view of most areas of blockchain technology, it also covers hands on exercises using Ethereum, Bitcoin, Quroum and Hyperledger to equip readers with both theory and practical knowledge of blockchain technology. The third edition includes four new chapters on hot topics such as blockchain consensus, tokenization, Ethereum 2 and Enterprise blockchains. 

About the author 

Imran Bashir has an M.Sc. in Information Security from Royal Holloway, University of London, and has a background in software development, solution architecture, infrastructure management, and IT service management. He is also a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the British Computer Society (BCS). Imran has extensive experience in both the public and financial sectors, having worked on large-scale IT projects in the public sector before moving to the financial services industry. Since then, he has worked in various technical roles for different financial companies in Europe’s financial capital, London. 

Expert Insight presents a new line of books from Packt Publishing that will sit alongside and complement the wider publishing program. We started publishing titles in this line in late 2017, and are adding new titles every month. The books of Expert Insight feature leading authors in their respective fields, who have significant experience and a profound knowledge of trending topics. We aim to provide a platform for expert insight and opinions, both from individual authors and from groups of experts working in the same field. Our titles are very much focused around the voice and identity of the author themselves and the opportunity for the reader to connect with the individual, supported by the author’s image on our covers.