“Blockchain has some interesting characteristics from a security perspective”
What’s the buzz about blockchain? We talked to Eoin Woods, a JAX Finance speaker, about blockchain before his upcoming sessions in London this April. He explains how this technology could help with finance, smart contracts, cybersecurity, and more!
JAXenter: Why should people start using blockchain?
Eoin Woods: Blockchain is a completely different way of distributing data and building distributed systems without needing complex hierarchical trust relationships. It looks as if it could be a real driver for change and innovation in a number of industries and it is maturing fast, so it’s a good time to start learning about its possibilities.
JAXenter: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned from using blockchain?
Eoin Woods: That blockchain isn’t a good solution for quite a few problems! When you first meet blockchain you start seeing all problems as possible applications. After you’ve worked with it for a while you realize there are certain characteristics that make a problem a good blockchain application – like the need for cooperation without central authority.
JAXenter: Should we expect blockchain to dominate the sector of economic transactions in 2018?
Eoin Woods: Blockchain is nowhere near mature enough to dominate any sector in 2018, possibly apart from the press release generation sector. What I expect in 2018 is for more and more people to understand what blockchains can and can’t be used for and to start looking at it seriously.
JAXenter: Can you tell us more about smart contracts and what are their use cases?
Eoin Woods: Smart contracts are code which manipulates the state of the blockchain and runs within the blockchain environment – typically in a virtual machine within every blockchain node. Every blockchain implementation has a different type of smart contract, so the good use cases vary, but problems such as conditional value transfer or transaction validation are often neatly solved using a smart contract.
JAXenter: We’ve been talking about the advantages blockchain brings to the finance industry but how about cybersecurity? How can this technology help fight cyber attacks?
Eoin Woods: Possibly. The peer-to-peer, highly distributed and transparent nature of a blockchain make it highly resistant to certain types of attacks, so blockchain certainly has some interesting characteristics from a security perspective. It’s not a general solution to cybersecurity though (and of course, brings vulnerabilities and complexities of its own).
JAXenter: What are the new areas in which blockchain is likely to be used this year?
Eoin Woods: Great question. That’s quite hard to predict because a lot of proof-of-concept work is going on in parallel in different industries. However, I think it’s quite likely that we’ll see more emphasis on blockchain for information sharing applications in 2018.
JAXenter: What milestone do you think blockchain will achieve this year?
Eoin Woods: I think the first small-scale production blockchain applications will be achieved in capital markets and I think that developer critical mass around some leading blockchains (like Ethereum and Hyperledger) will probably be achieved.
JAXenter: What will participants be able to take away from your session?
Eoin Woods: They’ll go away understanding what a blockchain can and can’t do and how to get started building their own blockchain application.