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Opinion
Elaine Ou

Cryptocurrency Deals Can Always Be Erased, for a Price

But at least in the blockchain, everyone knows the price.

Even so, a legion of ledgers is better than one.

Even so, a legion of ledgers is better than one.

Photographer: Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Long before there was a Federal Reserve, banks settled accounts with each other by sending porters from bank to bank to exchange checks for bags of gold. Sometimes a porter would present a check only to find that the issuing bank had insufficient funds. Rumors of insolvency quickly spread and panic would ensue.

With a blockchain, everyone has their own copy of the database. Participants can verify account balances before accepting a payment, rendering bounced checks a thing of the past. But that’s not as easy as it sounds.