Konrad Ziółkowski

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Blockchain is a digital record of transactions, a type of a database. It is called blockchain because of its structure where individual records, or blocks, are linked forming a chain. Originally, blockchain was used only as a ledger of cryptocurrency transactions (e.g.: bitcoin, litecoin, or ethereum).

Every transaction added to the chain of blocks is verified online by multiple computers at the same time. The monitoring of transactions in the blockchain network is possible thanks to the system of interlinked devices. All computers work together, ensuring the validity and compatibility of each transaction before it is added to the database. A single user cannot falsify chain data by adding incorrect blocks - this is the self-correction of system errors.

Once a new block is added to the chain, it is linked to the end of the blockchain using a string of characters generated by the hash function based on the content of the most recent block added to the blockchain. This ensures the integrity and immutability of the database. Every new block is added to the chain of blocks containing records of similar transactions (based on data compatibility). If you change any data contained in a block, this will lead to the rebuilding of the blocks created later on and thus will make them inaccurate and inconsistent. Previously entered data are thus not erased but modified by creating further blocks. This solution is very transparent and allows simple auditing of data in the systems; moreover, it is almost completely tamper-proof.

Although blockchain became popular for its use in cryptocurrency transactions, this technology has a future also in many other sectors. For example, it can be used in drafting smart contracts (also called “self-executing contracts”) which are executed once certain specific conditions are met. This is possible thanks to an automated deposit system created for transactions between two parties. Blockchain also handles payments without any central clearing and settlement point otherwise required for payment processors and transfers. It also has potential when it comes to increasing the efficiency of securities trading by enabling a nearly instant settlement of stock market transactions.

We are only at the beginning of the way to discover the full range of applications of this technology, which is already setting new security standards previously difficult to imagine.

Blockchain - why bother?

The benefits of using a blockchain database include among others:

• “Secure by Design” – data security as a top priority.
• Consensus algorithm – an encoded cryptographic architecture, without an intermediary verifying transaction data or verifying its participants.
• Distribution and decentralisation – resistance to all kinds of IT system failures.
• Blockchain register – open, public, anonymous and uncontrolled.
• Open source – unlimited access to technology.
• Transparency – all operational aspects of technology are open.
• Privacy by design / Privacy by default – no need to share personal data with intermediaries.
• Autonomy – independence from banks, payment processors or payment card operators.
• Public-key cryptography – no need to log into the system with a login and password