Course Overview

Course Objectives

The course is designed to provide an introductory understanding of decentralized digital currencies (cryptocurrencies) such as Bitcoin. In particular, the course will survey the theory and principles by which cryptocurrencies operate, practical examples of basic cryptocurrency use, including clients, wallets, transactions. We’ll look at the cryptocurrency ecosystem financial services and discuss the existing and potential interaction of cryptocurrencies with the banking, financial, legal and regulatory environment. Lastly, the course will examine in detail how cryptocurrencies can be viewed from an innovation perspective and what opportunities they present when blockchain technology converges with other exciting technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things.

The course consists of four general topics:

  1. Theoretical introduction to cryptocurrencies and Blockchain technology: This will include the history of digital currencies, the invention of decentralized consensus through proof-of-work, and a technical overview of cryptographic currencies such as Bitcoin, as well as alternative/advanced uses of the blockchain.
  2. Practical introduction to cryptocurrencies: In depth view of how the system works, how it stays secure and what incentives are in play to maintain it functional and growing. How transactions take place, and how Bitcoins are acquired, stored and secured.
  3. Banking, financial and regulatory implications of cryptocurrencies: Overview of how cryptocurrencies map to the existing monetary and banking system, existing and possible approaches to regulation and their further development.
  4. Convergence with other technologies & Innovation: How cryptocurrencies can be viewed through conventional innovation frameworks, what this unique positioning tells us about their future as a technology, and what possibilities exist for cryptocurrencies when combined with other innovative technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things, and the fascinating space of Decentralized Finance (DeFi).

Learning Outcomes

After completion of the course students are expected to be able to:

  • Understand the fundamental technology components of blockchain-based digital currencies, the process of currency issuance, proof-of-work and alternative consensus mechanisms, how they are applied and how the distributed ledger is structured at its core.
  • Understanding digital currency transactions, create their wallets, be able to acquire test bitcoins, conduct transactions from a wallet, and understand the risks and options in keeping their coins reasonably safe.
  • Understand more advanced uses of the blockchain such as escrow services, multisignature transactions, asset registration, attestation and smart contracts applications.
  • Explore alternative blockchains to Bitcoin, such as alt-coins and Ethereum and IOU-based systems like Ripple and understand some of their differences.
  • Understand what parallels and differences cryptocurrencies have with the existing monetary and banking systems, what approaches are the same and what are fundamentally different.
  • Understand existing approaches by regulators globally, and the likely frameworks for regulating cryptocurrencies, and their interface with conventional finance, in the future.
  • Be able to critically judge on their own, whether cryptocurrencies are disruptive innovations, and what hurdles, bottlenecks or avenues exist towards wider adoption.
  • Look at the potential they present when blockchain converges with other innovative technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things.
  • Develop a comprehensive understanding of Decentralized Finance, its history and evolution over time, the DeFi ecosystem, its constituent elements, how they interconnect, its advantages but also challenges that it brings.