Nowadays as blockchain has evolved to become ‘the’ current buzzword it seems that everyone knows everything and anything about it. Being a distributed, decentralized and immutable database, a blockchain is great for secure and transparent records and transactions of all sorts of data and assets. But let’s leave all the technical stuff aside and focus a bit on what kind of problems can be solved through blockchain technology and which value can be created in our modern world.
We believe that blockchain technology will change the world in some way or another. Currently it seems that the path for such a change is still very abstract. When you are browsing new and promising blockchain projects, nearly all of them write something like ‘Building a new world’, ‘Revolutionizing this’, or ‘Disrupting that’. Is it really possible or needed to disrupt existing products, services, and processes that are already well-established in first world countries? People there are already being pampered by PayPal, Amazon and AirBnB which all offer an incredibly high level of service quality.
Who really cares that they’re not decentralized?
If the market is already saturated, where can blockchain technology make a real change? Maybe the real value of blockchain technology in first world countries is enabling a way for further automation and optimization of those processes and services?
If disruptive change is unlikely in developed countries, let’s take a look at the less fortunate, underdeveloped countries where many people still live in poverty and cannot even dream about things like Amazon’s Same-Day Delivery. Experts are convinced that blockchain technology could have a vast impact on the economy and welfare of a developing country. Blockchain applications could for instance help a country fight corruption. This could be done by implementing a national registry for land properties and social documents. Additionally, a national budget tracking system could establish a certain level of transparency and governance to foster social trust in the government. Peer-to-peer banking services running on blockchain technology could empower unbanked people to make investments and participate in their country’s economy. (see this article for more examples).
There is great potential for disruptive change powered by blockchain technology in developing countries and we are certain that it could also lead to some technological revolutions.
A very interesting economic concept is leapfrogging. Applied to developing countries leapfrogging means skipping certain technologies (for example landlines) to directly ‘leap’ to more advanced ones (mobile phones). This phenomenon can be observed with the M-Pesa mobile payment system in Kenya and Tanzania that skipped several stages of traditional banking services to directly leap to mobile banking. M-Pesa has since then helped millions of unbanked people. Developing countries could use the lack of existing technological infrastructure as advantage by directly skipping to modern, more sophisticated technologies.
A blockchain project that picks up on the leapfrogging concept is BlockMesh. They aim to tackle the challenge of providing internet access and communication to underdeveloped countries by making use of advanced technology. Their idea is to combine blockchain technology with mesh networks to create a decentralized, cost-free communications network.
“A mesh network is a group of devices communicating and passing information from one device to another in sequence till the intended recipient is reached.” — Blockmesh Whitepaper
Together with us, BlockMesh is developing a mobile app functioning as nodes in a local mesh network. Participants of this network will act as local internet providers that get incentivized through micro-payments to offer their internet to the others on the mesh network. The app will also offer a chat functionality, serve as a crypto-wallet and will allow users to open their own digital stores to sell products and services through.
We really like the vision of BlockMesh and are proud to participate in a project that could potentially help so many people.
Finally, we wanted to emphasize that the real value of blockchain technology will become clearer in the years to come. What is already clear is the vast potential this technology holds to help underdeveloped countries tackling their problems.