Lecture Explores Basics of Cryptocurrency, Bitcoin

“Everyone owns bitcoin,” said Qusai Joudah who leads UNICEF innovation work on cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies, at the beginning of the lecture “The Fundamentals of Bitcoin and Open Blockchain Technology," held on November 18, 2017 on the University campus.

The lecture, organized by the Department of Computer Science in the Faculty of Engineering and Technology at Birzeit University, discussed the concept of cryptocurrency and one of its well-known implementations: bitcoin.

Joudah explained the primary difference between normal currency and cryptocurrency: “Currency has been in use ever since antiquity, but it has always been under the control of one overarching institution, a central bank, for example. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies counter this by being decentralized - that is, no one person actually controls bitcoin; all moves and transactions are agreed upon by all subscribers of the network.”

“Bitcoin works,” Joudah further clarified, “sort of like Google Docs, where a file is shared among all users and edits are propagated through the network. But while in Docs there’s a central server, bitcoin utilizes devices on the network as both users and servers; the blockchain – the list of all transactions and moves – is copied, with the latest updated, to all bitcoin users on a regular basis.”

Joudah traced a live transaction throughout the network, from the sender, through the various nodes, and finally to the receiver, highlighting along the way the miner, the blockchain, the wallet, and the network itself. “The system is modular, you can use the wallet and the network, the blockchain and the miner, or any configuration that is applicable and sanctioned by the consensus of the users,” he added.

Students and faculty members contributed to the discussion with their questions on the peer-to-peer nature of the network and the actual monetary value of bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general.