Then, copy that formula down for the rest of your stocks. But, as I said, dividends can make a huge contribution to the returns received for a particular stock. Also, you can insert charts and diagrams to understand the distribution of your investment portfolio, and what makes up your overall returns. If you have data on one sheet in Excel that you would like to copy to a different sheet, you can select, copy, and paste the data into a new location. A good place to start would be the Nasdaq Dividend History page. You should keep in mind that certain categories of bonds offer high returns similar to stocks, but these bonds, known as high-yield or junk bonds, also carry higher risk.
Bitcoin is just one example of a cryptocurrency, though; other cryptocurrency networks are also powered by blockchain technology. So although Bitcoin uses blockchain technology to trade digital currency, blockchain is more than just Bitcoin. Looking at the wider applications of blockchain Because blockchain and Bitcoin are so inextricably linked, it took people a long time to realise that blockchain actually has much wider applications beyond cryptocurrency networks.
Here are just a few examples of the wider applications of blockchain beyond Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies: Executing smart contracts. Thanks to Bitcoin, we already know that blockchain is great for facilitating digital transactions, but it can also be used for formalising digital relationships through smart contracts. With a smart contract, automated payments can be released once the contract terms have been fulfilled, which promises to save time and help to reduce discrepancies or solve disputes.
Maintaining a shared, transparent system of record. Blockchain is the ideal solution for maintaining a long-term, secure and transparent record of assets land rights would be a good example that all parties can access securely. Auditing the supply chain. Blockchain allows users to trace the records of ownership for goods all the way back to the source. As an example of this, Diamond company De Beers has started to use blockchain to trace diamonds from the mine to the end customer.
Anyone who wants to verify that their diamonds are free from conflict will have a transparent and complete record. Providing proof of insurance. Nationwide insurance company is planning to use blockchain to provide proof-of-insurance information. That means if you try to deposit a check on Friday at 6 p. 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.
Currency Blockchain forms the bedrock for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. The U. In , 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.
Using cryptocurrency wallets for savings accounts or as a means of payment is especially profound for those who have no state identification. Some countries may be war-torn or have governments that lack any real infrastructure to provide identification. Citizens of such countries may not have access to savings or brokerage accounts—and, therefore, no way to safely store wealth.
When a medical record is generated and signed, it can be written into the blockchain, which provides patients with the proof and confidence that the record cannot be changed. These personal health records could be encoded and stored on the blockchain with a private key, so that they are only accessible by certain individuals, thereby ensuring privacy. In the case of a property dispute, claims to the property must be reconciled with the public index.
This process is not just costly and time-consuming—it is also prone to human error, where each inaccuracy makes tracking property ownership less efficient. Blockchain has the potential to eliminate the need for scanning documents and tracking down physical files in a local recording office. If property ownership is stored and verified on the blockchain, owners can trust that their deed is accurate and permanently recorded.
If a group of people living in such an area is able to leverage blockchain, then transparent and clear time lines of property ownership could be established. 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.
This would eliminate the fees and processes typically associated with the use of a notary, a third-party mediator, or attorneys. Supply Chains As in the IBM Food Trust example, suppliers can use blockchain to record the origins of materials that they have purchased. Voting As mentioned above, blockchain could be used to facilitate a modern voting system.
Voting with blockchain carries the potential to eliminate election fraud and boost voter turnout, as was tested in the November midterm elections in West Virginia. Using blockchain in this way would make votes nearly impossible to tamper with. The blockchain protocol would also maintain transparency in the electoral process, reducing the personnel needed to conduct an election and providing officials with nearly instant results.
This would eliminate the need for recounts or any real concern that fraud might threaten the election. From greater user privacy and heightened security to lower processing fees and fewer errors, blockchain technology may very well see applications beyond those outlined above. But there are also some disadvantages. Pros Improved accuracy by removing human involvement in verification Cost reductions by eliminating third-party verification Decentralization makes it harder to tamper with Transactions are secure, private, and efficient Transparent technology Provides a banking alternative and a way to secure personal information for citizens of countries with unstable or underdeveloped governments Cons Significant technology cost associated with mining bitcoin Low transactions per second History of use in illicit activities, such as on the dark web Regulation varies by jurisdiction and remains uncertain Data storage limitations Benefits of Blockchains Accuracy of the Chain 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. 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.
Decentralization 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.
Efficient Transactions Transactions placed through a central authority can take up to a few days to settle. If you attempt to deposit a check on Friday evening, for example, you may not actually see funds in your account until Monday morning. Whereas financial institutions operate during business hours, usually five days a week, blockchain is working 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and days a year.
Transactions can be completed in as little as 10 minutes and can be considered secure after just a few hours. This is particularly useful for cross-border trades, which usually take much longer because of time zone issues and the fact that all parties must confirm payment processing. 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. 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.
This discrepancy makes it extremely difficult for information on the blockchain to be changed without notice. Transparency Most blockchains are entirely open-source software. This means that anyone and everyone can view its code. This gives auditors the ability to review cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin for security.
Because of this, anyone can suggest changes or upgrades to the system. If a majority of the network users agree that the new version of the code with the upgrade is sound and worthwhile, then Bitcoin can be updated. Banking the Unbanked Perhaps the most profound facet of blockchain and Bitcoin is the ability for anyone, regardless of ethnicity, gender, or cultural background, to use it. According to The World Bank, an estimated 1.
Nearly all of these individuals live in developing countries, where the economy is in its infancy and entirely dependent on cash. These people often earn a little money that is paid in physical cash. They then need to store this physical cash in hidden locations in their homes or other places of living, leaving them subject to robbery or unnecessary violence.
Keys to a bitcoin wallet can be stored on a piece of paper, a cheap cell phone, or even memorized if necessary. For most people, it is likely that these options are more easily hidden than a small pile of cash under a mattress. Blockchains of the future are also looking for solutions to not only be a unit of account for wealth storage but also to store medical records, property rights, and a variety of other legal contracts.
Drawbacks of Blockchains Technology Cost Although blockchain can save users money on transaction fees, the technology is far from free. For example, the PoW system which the bitcoin network uses to validate transactions, consumes vast amounts of computational power. In the real world, the power from the millions of computers on the bitcoin network is close to what Norway and Ukraine consume annually. Despite the costs of mining bitcoin, users continue to drive up their electricity bills to validate transactions on the blockchain.
When it comes to blockchains that do not use cryptocurrency, however, miners will need to be paid or otherwise incentivized to validate transactions. Some solutions to these issues are beginning to arise. For example, bitcoin-mining farms have been set up to use solar power, excess natural gas from fracking sites, or power from wind farms.
Speed and Data Inefficiency Bitcoin is a perfect case study for the possible inefficiencies of blockchain. Although other cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum perform better than bitcoin, they are still limited by blockchain. Legacy brand Visa, for context, can process 65, TPS. Solutions to this issue have been in development for years. There are currently blockchains that are boasting more than 30, TPS. Ethereum's merge between its main net and beacon chain Sep. This will increase the network participation, reduce congestion, and increase transaction speeds.
The other issue is that each block can only hold so much data. The block size debate has been, and continues to be, one of the most pressing issues for the scalability of blockchains going forward. Illegal Activity While confidentiality on the blockchain network protects users from hacks and preserves privacy, it also allows for illegal trading and activity on the blockchain network. The most cited example of blockchain being used for illicit transactions is probably the Silk Road , an online dark web illegal-drug and money laundering marketplace operating from February until October , when it was shut down by the FBI.
The dark web allows users to buy and sell illegal goods without being tracked by using the Tor Browser and make illegal purchases in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. Current U. This system can be seen as both a pro and a con. It gives anyone access to financial accounts but also allows criminals to more easily transact.
Many have argued that the good uses of crypto, like banking the unbanked world, outweigh the bad uses of cryptocurrency, especially when most illegal activity is still accomplished through untraceable cash. While Bitcoin had been used early on for such purposes, its transparent nature and maturity as a financial asset has actually seen illegal activity migrate to other cryptocurrencies such as Monero and Dash. Today, illegal activity accounts for only a very small fraction of all Bitcoin transactions.
Regulation 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. This concern has grown smaller over time, as large companies like PayPal begin to allow the ownership and use of cryptocurrencies on its platform.
What Is a Blockchain in Simple Terms? Simply put, a blockchain is a shared database or ledger. Pieces of data are stored in data structures known as blocks, and each node of the network has an exact replica of the entire database.
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