The basic idea of blockchain technology is that it is supposed to let people transfer digital objects — money, securities, whatever — like they’re physical objects. Transfers of dollars rely on banks, and central banks, to keep records of who has all the money; we have to trust them; we don’t get to hold our dollars (except a few paper bills) ourselves. Transfers of securities rely on intermediaries — brokers and the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC) in the US — to keep records of who has all the stock; we have to trust them; we don’t get to hold our stocks ourselves. Transfers of bitcoins don’t rely on any trusted intermediary, the distributed ledger — the blockchain — of bitcoin transactions allows people to transfer bitcoins between themselves without trusting a third party. Anyone can use the ledger; you don’t have to be a member of a selective club. The blockchain idea is about decentralised, permissionless transfers of value. So it’s weird that basically every wel...

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