South Korea Invents Ledger-Free Blockchain

Ledger-free blockchain opens up the possibility of central banks utilizing the technology.

A group of South Korean researchers has unveiled a ledger-free blockchain called PureChain. The research team includes representatives from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Kyung Hee University, tech firm ICTK Holdings, and blockchain start-up EpitomeCL.

The technology could hasten the introduction of central bank-governed digital currencies. Nations could digitize their national currencies—one Chinese researcher has called on China’s central bank to do so—and capitalize on the efficiency of blockchain-related systems, bringing the money supply under tighter control.

Ledger-free blockchain is structured using “physical unclonable functions” (PUF), digital fingerprints used to identify microprocessors and other semiconductor devices. Previously, PUF technology had required the application of “error correction codes” when used as a key in cryptographic algorithms. Users could make peer-to-peer (P2P) payments “through consensus between two engaged nodes only,” realizing an advantage in transaction speed over Bitcoin and other conventional blockchains.

Some aspects of PureChain remain unclear. For example, the detail about the structure of the network’s ledger-free blockchain and a clear explanation of how the technology avoids the use of the PUF codes. But if PureChain works, central banks may begin eyeing it as a tool to go cashless.