Of coins and chains – Pt 1

Over the past couple of weeks, local dialogue about the phenomenon that is bitcoin and, by extension, cryptocurrency and blockchain has seemingly escalated. As is usually the case with new technologies, especially those touted to change the very fabric of how we do things fundamentally, there is a lot of information and misinformation floating around. In many cases, this is born out of a lack of understanding – in many circles – about these new technologies. It is crucial to shed as much light as possible on the subject so that the general public may make informed decisions.

This series focuses on Blockchain, Bitcoin, bitcoin and cryptocurrency. What’s the difference between them? Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency and global payment system that is generally referred to as the first decentralised digital currency because it operates without a central authority, such as a bank. Bitcoin is the creation of a group of ingenious minds who go by the pseudonym, Satoshi Nakamoto. It first came to prominence in 2008 after the global financial meltdown.

The network on which Bitcoin runs is a peer-to-peer network where transactions are conducted directly between users, and cryptographically verified by nodes (computer systems) that exist on the network. Every transaction is recorded in a publicly distributed ledger. It is this ledger that is called the blockchain. In simple terms, blockchain is the technology on which bitcoin runs, but they are not the same because the blockchain itself is used for many other types of transactions with a value of some sort.

The difference with the Bs in bitcoin

So next, let us quickly highlight a little-known tidbit. There is a difference between Bitcoin with an uppercase ‘B’ and bitcoin with a lowercase ‘b’. Bitcoin with a capital ‘B’ is typically associated with Bitcoin, the protocol and payment network, while bitcoin with a lowercase ‘b’ refers to bitcoin as the currency. So, you can now understand the difference when we speak about how much of the currency was transacted, or you’re focusing solely on the currency ‘b’ and not the payment network or protocol ‘B’. Next week we will look more closely at Blockchain technology.

Trevor Forrest is CEO, 876 Solutions and a Certified Blockchain Architect with over 29 years of experience in the IT Industry in Jamaica and overseas.