What’s the difference between blockchain and DLT?

Synonymous but not the same.

Max Thake
Max Thake
Feb 8, 2018 · 2 min read

The rise of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has brought the word ‘blockchain’ to headlines, book titles and dinner table discussions all over the world. The word has become synonymous with the idea of tokenization and cryptocurrencies, so much so that the crypto movement is often referred to as the ‘blockchain movement’.

Few of us take the time to understand blockchain or the way it works, and fewer still dive deep enough to understand the distinction between blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology. This short blog post aims to highlight the difference between the two, and introduce you to the main principles behind DLT.

So what’s the difference between blockchain and DLT?

Distributed Ledger Technology is an umbrella term used to describe technologies which store, distribute and facilitate the exchange of value between users, either privately or publicly.

Blockchain was the first fully functional Distributed Ledger Technology and the only one people knew about for close to a decade. This likely led people to the conclusion that it is, was and would forever be, the only form of DLT, therefore making it acceptable to use the two interchangeably.

Blockchain is a type of DLT, a subcategory of a more broad definition, much like how the word ‘car’ falls under the umbrella term ‘vehicles’ and ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’ falls under ‘geniuses’.

Why should we make the distinction?

As the cryptoworld continues to grow and change, we’re seeing an abundance of interesting projects eager to test, tune and tamper with our idea of DLT. This has led to the creation of several variations of the original bitcoin blockchain, but also DLT systems which have ditched the idea of a blockchain altogether, such as IOTA’s Tangle Network, Hashgraph, and peaq.

As entrepreneurs become more aware of their options, we could see less reliance on traditional blockchain systems, and a shift to other forms of Distributed Ledger Technology — knowing the difference between the two could prove invaluable.

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