Blogging on anything related to cryptocurrency is a daunting prospect, as there is already a huge amount of coverage, the learning curve is steep and the space ever-changing. So am looking forward to some frank feedback on this….

I joined the Blockstack event in Berlin Friday, with speakers including Nick Szabo, Albert Wenger and Edward Snowden, and demos/talks from a dozen or so tokens and dapps including Filecoin and Cryptokitties. We also hosted own ‘decentralized landscape’ event at Balderton yesterday with a wide-ranging discussion.

Reflecting on both of these, and everything I have read in the past, I still feel we don’t talk enough about what decentralised technologies will enable in the ‘real world’ and what businesses will result. Much of the conversation is (quite rightly) technical and most of the rest is ideological, political, even religious. Most smart developers today are working on the infrastructure layer rather than end use cases.

Image for post
Image for post
Albert Wenger of USV talking about politics, not products, at Blockstack Berlin

This is my attempt to summarise the use cases I see for decentralised apps and tokens. I am not just looking at whether something is feasible, but also whether there could be meaningful benefits for many users. There are other benefits of a decentralized architecture: reducing the market power of GAFA/BAT; improving privacy; censorship-resistance. However these aspects have been covered extensively elsewhere. Personally I suspect that 95% of the world’s population won’t sacrifice convenience for privacy.

Let me know what I have missed. I have taken the broadest market definition here to include cryptocurrencies, tokens, dApps and private blockchains.

Use cases feasible with current technology (with examples):

  • Speculative investment. (BTC, ICOs etc)
Image for post
Image for post

Use cases feasible with a 1000x increase in scalability:

  • Foreign exchange rails (Ripple)

Use cases feasible IF a decentralised architecture can reduce operating costs to something comparable to today’s cloud computing

(Personally I am sceptical on how feasible this is while remaining decentralized and secure, but I am not smart enough to say it is not possible)

  • Mass market storage (Filecoin)

Please let me know what I have missed.

The follow on question for the above is whether they will allow specific companies to get big and profitable, or whether (like http:) they deliver huge goods to society but without making any one person rich. Something for a future post perhaps….

Written by

Partner at Balderton Capital in London, working with Zego, Wagestream, Cleo, Carwow, Mojiworks, Primer, PlayPlay, Dream. Formerly Google & Bain.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store