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Blockchain 101: Jeff Moerdler Talks the Benefits and Beginnings of Crypto-Currency

Apr 11, 2018
by Josh Anderson

NEW YORK, NY — Jeff Moerdler is the head of the Real Estate and Communications practices in the New York Office of Mintz Levin and runs their Data Center and Telecom Real Estate Practice nationally. He has over 35 years experience as a general commercial real estate attorney and a specialty in telecom related real estate. He has extensive experience representing landlords, tenants, and communications service providers in the leasing, purchase, sale, and financing of data centers and interconnection facilities, collocation facilities, radio and television broadcast antennas, distributed and in-building antenna systems, rooftop antennas, and fiber-optic transactions as well as the wiring of buildings for broadband communications access. Jeff was a featured speaker at CapRE’s recent New York Data Center Summit, where he provided an overview of Blockchain technology. Below, we highlight some of his most instructive and insightful remarks. 

What is blockchain?

“A computerized set of algorithms that performs specific calculations and functions,” began Moerdler. “It’s a distributed, de-centralized ledger – a set of spreadsheets, in effect — that is shared and maintained across multiple sites and participants in the blockchain network. All participants should have their own identical copy of the chain, to prove the validity of the chain. So it’s maintained in multiple spaces, and everyone has the whole thing from start to finish.”

How is blockchain different from a database?

data center summitMoerdler stressed that it’s not just a database, but it can set rules for transactions at the database or application level. “Ledgers can be un-permissioned, where no one owns them, such a BitCoin, or permissioned, with multiple owners, such as the Private Bank Clearing Network,” He explained. “It’s composed of a series of blocks, which aggregate a series of transactions that record electronically what is happening. It cannot be changed without leaving an audit trail showing the tempering. And the distributed network contains a time stamp that shows every digital document.”

What are the benefits of blockchain?

For that, we need to look back to the source. “It was created in 2008 as a foundation for the bitcoin cryptocurrency, but the blockchain foundation is a neutral network that can be used by anyone and is publicly available,” shared Moerdler. “The benefits are that is creates an authoritative, verifiable transaction record, and a level of trust for a wide range of services, including financial markets, supply chains, consumers and business transactions.”

How is a blockchain-based currency different from other currencies?

A key element to blockchain is that it does not use a traditional, trusted, third-party administrator. So there’s no bank. There’s no government entity. It’s completely independent. It’s secure, transparent, and reduces paper,” Moerdler explained.

What about all of the bad P/R that blockchain has attracted?

“There is a strong perception of secrecy of use and anonymity of users, but that’s not necessarily accurate,” revealed Moerdler. “A user can use a pseudonym to log in and make transactions, as well as other tools such as anonymizers to make them anonymous, however the chain itself is generally public, unless it’s a privately operated blockchain. And it can be traced if the user is not careful.

A major example recently is that there was a drug trafficker in the dark web. Ross Ulbricht, the founder of Silk Road. He was caught by the IRS and the DEA. They tracked the guy down, realized what he was doing, and grabbed his laptop before he could lock it and wipe it. They got his passwords to show and open up all of the transactions he had done. They traced $13.4 Million U.S. Dollars of blockchain transactions that he had done for payment methods for this payment transactions. A lot of people think that it’s secret or anonymous, but it only is if you do it right and are extremely careful.

Stay tuned for CapRE for future Insider Reports featuring more insight from Moerdler.

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