The hidden value proposition explored
Corporate activity has been drawn into the blockchain and cryptocurrency space through the dawning realisation that the-internet-for-money can offer unique opportunity for profit and growth. The only question is how?
Grand ideas involving ever-more-complex software platforms grab attention and column inches, promising revolutionary means by which business may interact financially, technically and practically.
There are brave commercial entries into this world, willing to engage with bleeding-edge technologies and platforms in order to score ‘first mover’ advantage. Unfortunately many of these operations are discovering the risks of working with innovative-but-flawed systems in need of far more testing, refinement and understanding before being put live and into the hands of the wider community, a lesson recently learned the hard way by the Parity Tech team, about Ethereum.
Myriad businesses are seeking to exploit opportunity from radical new technologies and methodologies, involving blockchains, tangles and timestamps. Racing to roll-out usable, profitable and viable environments and services which either mimic current trends in regular, centrally-managed, platforms — Twitter, Facebook, YouTube etc, or experimenting with decentralised models of operation and business with the Internet-of-Things, or Identity Initiatives.
But, again, there is a marked difference between bleeding-edge and leading-edge, an issue of risk as much as of reliability. It is one thing to take on that commercial risk as a business, wholly another to expect your customers to.
As Paul Gadi’s article explains, cryptocurrency is complicated.
The first time I tried downloading an Ethereum wallet, I unintentionally set up an Ethereum node on my Desktop PC, consuming all of my free hard disk space.
Not only is cryptocurrency complicated to use, misunderstanding and mistakes risk more than accidentally setting up a wallet incorrectly and filling up your hard drive. They risk the user permanently losing their funds.
Irreversible financial transactions are exactly how technologies such as bitcoin and its underlying blockchain are meant to work, though. Aren’t we supposed to be heralding in the death of the centralised banking system through empowering the individual to wrest control of the monetary system away from their evil machinations? Am I proposing that we forgo the revolution for the sake of continued monetary ‘parenting’ from retail banks?
But the ‘parenting’ part describes an aspect of our relationship with the current financial services industry which is often overlooked. That its premise is generally one of acting the benevolent overseer, keeping our money out of our mattresses and safely held in the responsible hands of their trusted guardianship where erroneous or nefarious transactions can usually be corrected and reversed.
Except we know that it can be something of an abusive relationship, one we have been supplicant to out of necessity and conditioning. It is what we are used to, what we know and what we have depended on. We depend on it because, prior to decentralised cryptocurrency, there was no alternative. Now there is an alternative to what has gone before we still need to be mindful of the fact that this blockchain-based revolution is largely too complicated and unwieldy for most end-users. It is a simple fact that not everybody has the time, nor the inclination, to learn the intricacies and master the management and personal autonomy of fully decentralised environments.
Commercial enterprises can take advantage of this innovative space, to offer platforms and services which benefit from new functionality and methodologies, but must avoid over-burdening their customers, their users, with indecipherable interfaces and irreversible actions.
The answer to this quandary is to simply ask whether you even need to be fully integrating a decentralised cryptocurrency blockchain on the front-end in order for your users to benefit from the enhanced capabilities derived through blockchain technology.
There are ways to establish working partnerships between commercial entities and cryptocurrency communities which offer mutual benefit to all parties and create opportunity otherwise absent in isolation.
In this ongoing series of posts I will be describing the process by which our firm has established and progressed a working relationship with a coin and its community in order to provide for blockchain-based functionality and features within our mobile application which would be inefficient or impractical to replicate in-house or in partnership with traditional centralised business models and services.
It is a bold experiment in community/commercial self-interest.
I am genuinely fascinated to see how this plays out…