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Blockchain and the translation industry – A positive view

Updated: Jan 23

What is Blockchain?

Blockchain is the name of a completely new and promising technology. As the name implies, a blockchain is a set of blocks or groups of transactions that are chained together and distributed among users.

According to Blockchain Revolution authors Don & Alex Tapscott: “Blockchain is a non-corrupting digital ledger for economic transactions that can be programmed to record virtually anything of value, not just financial transactions. Is an always-synchronized database stored and controlled in a distributed network. It is accessible to anyone who owns some of the data used.”

According to its proponents, the use of blockchain reaches far beyond transactions – it enables the exchange of value without intervention. It also enables people to enter the global economy by ensuring privacy and protection of intellectual property. Simply put, this means that there is no need for an intermediary between the service provider and the customer, and transactions can be handled safely and directly.

The examples are endless: consider financial transactions such as remittances that invalidate intermediate steps such as checking funds, collecting service fees, and converting currencies. Send money to someone without going through an intermediary bank or credit card company. Imagine being able to track where a product was manufactured through an item history that tracks where, when, how, and who manufactured the product or being able to see exactly where donations go and how those funds are being used. Voting supported by this technology could make fraudulent elections virtually impossible and the medical system could benefit from databases that can prevent access to medical data and patient records with absolute protection and transparency.


How does blockchain affect translation services?

For the translation and localization industry, blockchain needs to consider two areas: blockchain translation and cryptocurrency related localization services.

Who translates cryptocurrencies and blockchains?

With the recent rise in popularity of cryptocurrencies and trading, more and more translation companies strive to offer services that support this growing market. “We translate for your tokens” is the motto of the translation company I came across when reading how blockchain relates to the translation and localization industry. Blockchain is arguably becoming another area of ​​expertise alongside areas such as law, medicine and finance. Companies are providing blockchain translation, localization and copywriting services for ICOs and cryptocurrencies. This includes ICO and PreICO documents, white papers, smart contracts, cryptocurrency-related content and websites, trading platforms, financial reports and more.

With East Asia at the forefront of this new “crypto movement”, the most popular translation languages are Chinese, Korean and Japanese. They are shortly followed by Spanish, Russian and German.

Following this trend, blockchain-enabled marketplaces have also been created for the translation and localization industry and are funded by Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). These marketplaces provide an environment where participants can sell services (assets) directly to buyers using payment tokens running on the blockchain platform. In these scenarios, translators, reviewers, editors, agencies, or anyone else involved in the project pipeline blocks metadata such as name, material type, language pair, client ID, date and time, adding it to the chain. This data is then encrypted with the customer’s public key so that only the customer can access it. Once a quality issue is identified, it can be effectively tracked. Customers can access specific blocks where information is stored to see what happened. Then, based on this information, decide which translator / reviewer to use for future projects.


The main goals and provisions of blockchain translation:

  • Protection of intellectual property by assigning copyright to the author and recording the work permanently.

  • The work is traced back to the original linguist

  • Fair compensation to the owner for future use of the content

  • If necessary, language resources such as translation memories and translation engine training data can be released on a payer-based basis.

  • The quality and reliability of blockchain translations can be tracked; this enables buyers to decide which linguist to hire for their project.

  • The payment process is accelerated by optimizing micropayments with cryptocurrencies

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