FIN547 Blockchain Technologies: Applications and Challenges provides students a technical understanding of how blockchain works and how it can be used to address real-world problems. The course starts with an overview of the blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, followed with technical protocols, tools, and processes that enable decentralization and the adoption of blockchain for peer-to-peer payments and business applications. The course analyses the Bitcoin mechanism (blocks, mining, distributed consensus, and P2P network) and ecosystem (hard/soft forks, wallets, and exchanges). It then reviews the representative system for Blockchain 2.0 that is Ethereum (smart contracts, Decentralised Autonomous Organisations (“DAOs”)) commonly used for industry applications. It also looks into other distributed consensus mechanisms and evaluates the core principles behind the design of consensus mechanisms. The latter part of the course focuses on advanced blockchain design thinking and challenges such as the issues of centralization vs decentralization, trusted third party, oracles, fintech valuation, technical and social scalability and interoperability. The course employs case studies, hands-on programming and projects to help students form a critical understanding of how blockchain technologies can be applied to both financial and nonfinancial areas, as well as the challenges and questions that still need to be addressed. Overall, the course is aimed at providing technical foundation underlying blockchain and digital currencies, and equipping students with tools and mindsets to design and develop on the blockchain and provide innovative solutions to real-world issues.
Credit Units: 5
Presentation Pattern: Every July