Are you aware of blockchain? You may be about to get a lot more familiar with it now that the energy market is set to make use of the technology to provide users with all the information they need surrounding their transactions. Not sure what that means? Syntax IT support London are here to explain all…
So what is blockchain?
Blockchain may seem like a scary overly complex system for anyone not in the know but the premise is quite simple. The authors of Block Chain Revolution, Don and Alex Tappscott describe blockchain as “an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.” This essentially means blockchain provides a foolproof method of documenting transactions online.
The best and most famous example is bitcoin, a digital currency that is used to buy goods online. Once the transaction occurs there is an unbreakable record of each transaction and the transference of bitcoins for products. This series of transactions is updated across each individual in the chain to create extensive documentation of the transaction and every other transaction linked to it. This type of non corruptible chain does not necessarily require the use of bitcoins. There are now many other uses being coined too (pardon the pun).
What has it got to do with gas and electricity?
Utilidex, an online platform for the energy sector have recently decided to branch out into blockchain through their online hub. This will allow retailers and generators of electricity and gas the chance to keep track of the energy process from creation to sale. This information is planned to use Microsoft Azure to create an easy to understand database where anyone can view these transactions.
Liam Kelly, General Manager of Developer Experience at Microsoft UK, said: “Microsoft is always looking for ways to enable transformative technology. Our partnership with Utilidex to investigate Blockchain is a great example of how we work closely with companies to unlock incredible future innovation. Our Azure platform provides the solid and flexible foundation to build the intelligent cloud for everyone. We look forward to seeing Utilidex develop their solution on Azure, which is a platform for every industry.”
Is it a good thing?
So is this switch to block chain in the gas and electricity industry a good thing? Absolutely!
As of now energy companies buy gas and electricity from generators that are then sold on to households. But the sector is changing. The regulator Ofgem noted that 14 new suppliers entered the domestic market last year alone. With more choice than ever before it is becoming increasingly important that customers understand exactly what they are paying for.
Blockchain is a way for each and every transaction made throughout the entire process to be made visible. This visibility is encouraging for customers who can better understand the process, and the chain ensures everyone involved is kept to a high degree of accountability. Sales that are made in plain sight help encourage valid transactions especially considering how difficult it is for data to be altered or mismanaged. The beauty of blockchain is that any information in the chain is very hard to corrupt or change by any one individual in that chain. Essentially altering any one unit of information on the blockchain would take an incredibly large amount of power that would have to override the entire network.
Blockchain is an exciting development in internet technology and there are many promising uses that could assist us in the future. But by the very nature of its design, its true effectiveness will only come when it is used more widely spread. To put it in simpler terms we will borrow from Larry Summers, Former US Secretary of the Treasury who described bitcoin as such: “Bitcoin has the same character a fax machine had. A single fax machine is a doorstop. The world where everyone has a fax machine is an immensely valuable thing.”