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Blockchain-powered online shopping promises security improvements

11 April 2018 - 10:35 by Mike Price

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The likelihood of personal data being misused if it is shared with businesses online seems to be greater than ever, especially in the wake of the scandal surrounding social media titan, Facebook, and big data operator, Cambridge Analytica.

Because of this, attempts are being made to change the way that safe shopping online operates. And some believe that the answer lies in blockchain technology, according to AdWeek.

Blockchain is what powers Bitcoin and other crypto currencies. It is seen as a kind of decentralised digital ledger; a way of tracking transactions of all types using encrypted ‘blocks’ of data.

Shift one block, and the entire chain is updated, so it is arguably impossible to cheat or steal in this type of environment. And the data itself is held anonymously, so when it comes to improving shopping online, it is clear that there are some advantages to be gained.

One retail firm which is investigating the potential of blockchain tech is the appropriately named Shop. It wants to give users total control over their private info, allowing them to pick and choose which outlets can access it, and for how long it is in their grasp.

In short, this will mean that consumers own their data, not the big businesses that rely on them for their custom.

Shop chief exec, John Wantz, said that at the moment a handful of major organisations are responsible for vast swathes of personal data. Using blockchain, this state of affairs can be flipped and the concept of central control of user info will be eradicated.

This would not only boost security, but mean that people who love e-commerce sites will not have the items that are offered to them dictated by algorithms which pick and choose according to their previous purchases.