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What Is a Blockchain?
A blockchain is a distributed database that is shared among the nodes of a computer network. As a database, a blockchain stores information electronically in digital format. Blockchains are best known for their crucial role in cryptocurrency systems, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, for maintaining a secure and decentralized record of transactions. The innovation with a blockchain is that it guarantees the fidelity and security of a record of data and generates trust without the need for a trusted third party.
One key difference between a typical database and a blockchain is how the data is structured. A blockchain collects information together in groups, known as blocks, that hold sets of information. Blocks have certain storage capacities and, when filled, are closed and linked to the previously filled block, forming a chain of data known as the blockchain. All new information that follows that freshly added block is compiled into a newly formed block that will then also be added to the chain once filled.

Blockchain Transparency
Because of the decentralized nature of Bitcoin’s blockchain, all transactions can be transparently viewed by either having a personal node or using blockchain explorers that allow anyone to see transactions occurring live. Each node has its own copy of the chain that gets updated as fresh blocks are confirmed and added. This means that if you wanted to, you could track Bitcoin wherever it goes.
A database usually structures its data into tables, whereas a blockchain, like its name implies, structures its data into chunks (blocks) that are strung together. This data structure inherently makes an irreversible time line of data when implemented in a decentralized nature. When a block is filled, it is set in stone and becomes a part of this time line. Each block in the chain is given an exact time stamp when it is added to the chain.

Is Blockchain Secure?
Blockchain technology achieves decentralized security and trust in several ways. To begin with, new blocks are always stored linearly and chronologically. That is, they are always added to the “end” of the blockchain. After a block has been added to the end of the blockchain, it is extremely difficult to go back and alter the contents of the block unless a majority of the network has reached a consensus to do so. That’s because each block contains its own hash, along with the hash of the block before it, as well as the previously mentioned time stamp. Hash codes are created by a mathematical function that turns digital information into a string of numbers and letters. If that information is edited in any way, then the hash code changes as well.

Blockchain vs. Banks
Blockchains have been heralded as being a disruptive force to the finance sector, and especially with the functions of payments and banking. However, banks and decentralized blockchains are vastly different.

How Are Blockchains Used?
As we now know, blocks on Bitcoin’s blockchain store data about monetary transactions. Today, there are more than 10,000 other cryptocurrency systems running on blockchain. But it turns out that blockchain is actually a reliable way of storing data about other types of transactions as well. Some companies that have already incorporated blockchain include Walmart, Pfizer, AIG, Siemens, Unilever, and a host of others. For example, IBM has created its Food Trust blockchain to trace the journey that food products take to get to their locations.

Banking and Finance
Perhaps no industry stands to benefit from integrating blockchain into its business operations more than banking. Financial institutions only operate during business hours, usually five days a week. That means if you try to deposit a check on Friday at 6 p.m., you will likely have to wait until Monday morning to see that money hit your account. Even if you do make your deposit during business hours, the transaction can still take one to three days to verify due to the sheer volume of transactions that banks need to settle. Blockchain, on the other hand, never sleeps. By integrating blockchain into banks, consumers can see their transactions processed in as little as 10 minutes—basically the time it takes to add a block to the blockchain, regardless of holidays or the time of day or week. With blockchain, banks also have the opportunity to exchange funds between institutions more quickly and securely. In the stock trading business, for example, the settlement and clearing process can take up to three days (or longer, if trading internationally), meaning that the money and shares are frozen for that period of time. Given the size of the sums involved, even the few days that the money is in transit can carry significant costs and risks for banks.

Blockchain forms the bedrock for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. The U.S. dollar is controlled by the Federal Reserve. Under this central authority system, a user’s data and currency are technically at the whim of their bank or government. If a user’s bank is hacked, the client’s private information is at risk. If the client’s bank collapses or the client lives in a country with an unstable government, the value of their currency may be at risk. In 2008, several failing banks were bailed out—partially using taxpayer money. These are the worries out of which Bitcoin was first conceived and developed. By spreading its operations across a network of computers, blockchain allows Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to operate without the need for a central authority. This not only reduces risk but also eliminates many of the processing and transaction fees. It can also give those in countries with unstable currencies or financial infrastructures a more stable currency with more applications and a wider network of individuals and institutions with whom they can do business, both domestically and internationally.

Smart Contracts
A smart contract is a computer code that can be built into the blockchain to facilitate, verify, or negotiate a contract agreement. Smart contracts operate under a set of conditions to which users agree. When those conditions are met, the terms of the agreement are automatically carried out. Say, for example, that a potential tenant would like to lease an apartment using a smart contract. The landlord agrees to give the tenant the door code to the apartment as soon as the tenant pays the security deposit. Both the tenant and the landlord would send their respective portions of the deal to the smart contract, which would hold onto and automatically exchange the door code for the security deposit on the date when the lease begins. If the landlord doesn’t supply the door code by the lease date, then the smart contract refunds the security deposit. This would eliminate the fees and processes typically associated with the use of a notary, a third-party mediator, or attorneys.

Benefits of Blockchains
Transactions on the blockchain network are approved by a network of thousands of computers. This removes almost all human involvement in the verification process, resulting in less human error and an accurate record of information. Even if a computer on the network were to make a computational mistake, the error would only be made to one copy of the blockchain. For that error to spread to the rest of the blockchain, it would need to be made by at least 51% of the network’s computers—a near impossibility for a large and growing network the size of Bitcoin’s.

Cost Reductions
Typically, consumers pay a bank to verify a transaction, a notary to sign a document, or a minister to perform a marriage. Blockchain eliminates the need for third-party verification—and, with it, their associated costs. For example, business owners incur a small fee whenever they accept payments using credit cards, because banks and payment-processing companies have to process those transactions. Bitcoin, on the other hand, does not have a central authority and has limited transaction fees.

Blockchain does not store any of its information in a central location. Instead, the blockchain is copied and spread across a network of computers. Whenever a new block is added to the blockchain, every computer on the network updates its blockchain to reflect the change. By spreading that information across a network, rather than storing it in one central database, blockchain becomes more difficult to tamper with. If a copy of the blockchain fell into the hands of a hacker, only a single copy of the information, rather than the entire network, would be compromised.

Private Transactions
Many blockchain networks operate as public databases, meaning that anyone with an Internet connection can view a list of the network’s transaction history. Although users can access details about transactions, they cannot access identifying information about the users making those transactions. It is a common misperception that blockchain networks like bitcoin are anonymous, when in fact they are only confidential. When a user makes a public transaction, their unique code—called a public key, as mentioned earlier—is recorded on the blockchain. Their personal information is not. If a person has made a Bitcoin purchase on an exchange that requires identification, then the person’s identity is still linked to their blockchain address—but a transaction, even when tied to a person’s name, does not reveal any personal information.

Secure Transactions
Once a transaction is recorded, its authenticity must be verified by the blockchain network. Thousands of computers on the blockchain rush to confirm that the details of the purchase are correct. After a computer has validated the transaction, it is added to the blockchain block. Each block on the blockchain contains its own unique hash, along with the unique hash of the block before it. When the information on a block is edited in any way, that block’s hash code changes—however, the hash code on the block after it would not. This discrepancy makes it extremely difficult for information on the blockchain to be changed without notice.

Many in the crypto space have expressed concerns about government regulation over cryptocurrencies. While it is getting increasingly difficult and near impossible to end something like Bitcoin as its decentralized network grows, governments could theoretically make it illegal to own cryptocurrencies or participate in their networks.

How Many Blockchains are There?
The number of live blockchains is growing every day at an ever-increasing pace. As of 2022, there are more than 10,000 active cryptocurrencies based on blockchain, with several hundred more non-cryptocurrency blockchains.

Risks of using cryptocurrency?
Along with the explosion of interest in digital currency and all of its implications for both new and traditional businesses, there is a growing need for clarity regarding the legal implications of these new technologies and currencies. As governments around the world, regulatory agencies, central banks, and other financial institutions are working to understand the nature and meaning of digital currencies, individual investors can make a great deal of money investing in this new space. On the other hand, investors assume certain legal risks when they buy and sell cryptocurrencies. While digital currency might be easy to confuse for conventional electronic money, it is not the same; similarly, it is unlike conventional cash currencies because it cannot be physically owned and transferred between parties. Much of the murkiness of the legal standing of digital currency is due to the fact that the space has only recently become popular as compared with more traditional currency and payment systems. Below, we'll explore some of the emerging legal implications associated with investing in cryptocurrencies.

Cryptocurrencies as Property
One of the most critical legal considerations for any cryptocurrency investor has to do with the way that central authorities view cryptocurrency holdings. In the U.S., the IRS has defined cryptocurrencies as property rather than currencies. This means that individual investors are beholden to capital gains tax laws when it comes to reporting their cryptocurrency expenses and profits on their annual tax returns, regardless of where they purchased digital coins. This aspect of the cryptocurrency space adds layers of confusion and complexity for U.S. taxpayers, but the difficulty does not end there. Indeed, it remains unclear whether digital currency investors who have purchased their holdings on foreign exchanges must face additional reporting measures come tax time.

What is Polygon?
Polygon is a Plasma-based aggregator, which is a layer-2 solution for Ethereum, that provides a framework for building decentralized apps (dApps) off-chain that have fortified security, scalability and speed. The Plasma framework is one of the driving developments behind blockchain technology's mass adoption. Polygon is the creator of a crypto-based platform for NFTs, and has been investing more money in blockchain-based gaming tech. Polygon's platform allows users to trade NFTs without having to pay hefty fees. Polygon combines the best of Ethereum and sovereign blockchains into a full-fledged multi-chain system. Polygon solves pain points associated with Blockchains, like high gas fees and slow speeds, without sacrificing on security. This multi-chain system is akin to other ones such as Polkadot, Cosmos, Avalanche etc, but with at least three major upsides: It is able to fully benefit from Ethereum’s network effects.It is inherently more secure.It is more open and powerful

What is NFT?
A non-fungible token (NFT) is a unique and non-interchangeable unit of data stored on a blockchain. NFTs can be associated with reproducible digital files such as photos, videos, 3d object and audio. NFTs use a digital wallet to provide a public certificate of authenticity or proof of ownership, but do not restrict the sharing or copying of the underlying digital files. The lack of interchangeability (fungibility) distinguishes NFTs from blockchain cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, but finds usage in Ethereum, Polygon and many more networks for example. An NFT (and, if applicable, the associated license to use, copy or display the underlying asset) can be traded and sold on digital markets. The extralegal nature of NFT trading usually results in an informal exchange of ownership over the asset that has no legal basis for enforcement, often conferring little more than use as a status symbol. NFTs function like cryptographic tokens, but, unlike cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum, NFTs are not mutually interchangeable, hence not fungible. While all bitcoins are equal, each NFT may represent a different underlying asset and thus may have a different value. NFTs are created when blockchains string records of cryptographic hash, a set of characters identifying a set of data, onto previous records therefore creating a chain of identifiable data blocks. This cryptographic transaction process ensures the authentication of each digital file by providing a digital signature that is used to track NFT ownership. However, data links that point to details such as where the art is stored can be affected by link rot.

Ownership of an NFT does not inherently grant copyright or intellectual property rights to whatever digital asset the token represents.While someone may sell an NFT representing their work, the buyer will not necessarily receive copyright privileges when ownership of the NFT is changed and so the original owner is allowed to create more NFTs of the same work. In that sense, an NFT is merely a proof of ownership that is separate from a copyright. According to legal scholar Rebecca Tushnet, "In one sense, the purchaser acquires whatever the art world thinks they have acquired. They definitely do not own the copyright to the underlying work unless it is explicitly transferred." In practice, NFT purchasers do not generally acquire the copyright of the underlying artwork.

Technology applications
The unique identity and ownership of an NFT is verifiable via the blockchain ledger. Ownership of the NFT is often associated with a license to use the underlying digital asset, but generally does not confer copyright to the buyer. Some agreements only grant a license for personal, non-commercial use, while other licenses also allow commercial use of the underlying digital asset. Blockchain technology has also been used to publicly register and authenticate preexisting physical artworks to differentiate them from forgeries and verify their ownership via physical trackers or labels. NFTs can be used to represent in-game assets, such as digital plots of land, which some commentators describe as being controlled "by the user" instead of the game developer by allowing assets to be traded on third-party marketplaces without permission from the game developer.

Standards in blockchains
Specific token standards have been created to support various blockchain use-cases. Ethereum was the first blockchain to support NFTs with its ERC-721 standard and is currently the most widely used. Many other blockchains have added or plan to add support for NFTs with their growing popularity. ERC-721 was the first standard for representing non-fungible digital assets on the Ethereum blockchain. ERC-721 is an inheritable Solidity smart contract standard, meaning that developers can create new ERC-721-compliant contracts by copying from a reference implementation. ERC-721 provides core methods that allow tracking the owner of a unique identifier, as well as a permissioned way for the owner to transfer the asset to others. The ERC-1155 standard offers "semi-fungibility", as well as providing an analogue to ERC-721 functionality (meaning that an ERC-721 asset could be built using ERC-1155). Unlike ERC-721 where a unique ID represents a single asset, the unique ID of an ERC-1155 token represent a class of assets, and there is an additional quantity field to represent the amount of the class that a particular wallet has. The assets under the same class are interchangeable, and the user can transfer any amount of assets to others. Because Ethereum currently has high transaction fees (known as gas fees), layer 2 solutions for Ethereum have emerged which also supports NFTs: Immutable X – Immutable X is a layer 2 protocol for Ethereum designed specifically for NFTs, utilizing ZK rollups to eliminate gas fees for transactions. Polygon – Formerly known as the Matic Network, Polygon is a proof-of-stake blockchain which is supported by major NFT marketplaces such as OpenSea.

Storage off-chain
NFTs involving digital art generally do not store the associated artwork file on the blockchain due to its size. The token functions in a way more similar to a certificate of ownership, with a web address pointing to the piece of art in question, making the art still subject to link rot. Because NFTs are functionally separate from the underlying artworks, anybody can easily save a copy of an NFT's image, popularly through a right click. NFT supporters disparage this duplication of NFT artwork as a "right-clicker mentality", with one collector comparing the value of a purchased NFT to that of a status symbol "to show off that they can afford to pay that much".

Environmental concerns
NFT purchases and sales are enmeshed in a controversy regarding the high energy usage, and consequent greenhouse gas emissions, associated with blockchain transactions. A major aspect of this is the proof-of-work protocol required to regulate and verify blockchain transactions on networks such as Ethereum, which consumes a large amount of electricity; estimating the carbon footprint of a given NFT transaction involves a variety of assumptions about the manner in which that transaction is set up on the blockchain, the economic behavior of blockchain miners (and the energy demands of their mining equipment), as well as the amount of renewable energy being used on these networks. There are also conceptual questions, such as whether the carbon footprint estimate for an NFT purchase should incorporate some portion of the ongoing energy demand of the underlying network, or just the marginal impact of that particular purchase. An analogy that's been described for this is the footprint associated with an additional passenger on a given airline flight. Some more recent NFT technologies use alternative validation protocols, such as proof of stake, that have much less energy usage for a given validation cycle. Other approaches to reducing electricity include the use of off-chain transactions as part of minting an NFT. A number of NFT art sites are also looking to address these concerns, and some are moving to using technologies and protocols with lower associated footprints. Others now allow the option of buying carbon offsets when making NFT purchases, although the environmental benefits of this have been questioned. In some instances, NFT artists have decided against selling some of their own work to limit carbon emission contributions.

Artist and buyer fees
Sales platforms charge artists and buyers fees for minting, listing, claiming and secondary sales.

Plagiarism and fraud
There have been cases of artists having their work sold by others as an NFT, without permission. A process known as "sleepminting" can also allow a fraudster to mint an NFT in an artist's wallet and transfer it back to their own account without the artist becoming aware.

What is minting?
Minting is the process of creating or producing something. In blockchain, minting means, validating information, creating a new block and recording that information into the blockchain. For example, someone can mint an NFT or mint a new cryptocurrency.

What is a crypto wallet? Crypto wallets store your private keys, keeping your crypto safe and accessible. They also allow you to send, receive, and spend cryptocurrencies. They are software, web and hardware based.No matter the platform they are independent for specific currency or multi-platformed.

How to install Metamask wallet?