The blockchain is the underlying technology behind all cryptocurrency. In its simplest form, it is a marketplace for digital payments and asset exchange. Rather than a central authority, a database of transactions is managed by a Peer-to-Peer (P2P) network. The importance of cryptocurrency blockchains is its ability to maintain trust at a programmable level. By solving highly complex math problems this marketplace maintains its security and trust.
Cryptocurrency has become an Over the Top (OTT) version of money, similar to OTT services for video in the entertainment industry, and the how peer to peer (P2P) networking disrupted telecommunications a decade earlier. Over the Top services disrupt incumbent infrastructures, bypassing them completely and offering an alternative competitive service. From a crypto point of view, the plan was to bypass the monopolies that control fiat money – represented by governments or central banks. In a free society, cryptocurrency allows society to decide the fate of its home-grown currency.
Crypto is not only about virtual currencies. It is an ideology that opens opportunities that streamlines and evolves legacy supply chains. The demand for fast, transparent, international transactions and business services on the blockchain is increasing not only horizontally, but vertically, as the industries set for disruption.
One potential use of blockchain is in smart assets. This is where internet-connected assets can be registered on a globally decentralized blockchain. On this basis, blockchain joins Internet of Things (IoT) evolution, Benefits span the manufacturing, transactions, and movement of goods to any corner of the globe.
In the meantime, FinTech is considered the low-hanging-fruit for blockchain services. Businesses are exploring blockchain to settle payments and manage contracts – quickly and affordable. Successful implementations are expected to disrupt financial service monopolies as they streamline legacy supply chains.
The global benefits of blockchain are similar to how the internet revolution transformed society. With blockchain adoption, information is open and shared across companies, countries, and continents. Business, social and humanitarian possibilities are endless if blockchain applications successfully adopt best practices in privacy, security, and data management.
The possibilities unfolding in the blockchain space are nothing short of revolutionary. The largest redistribution of wealth in human history is happening now, completely dictated by a free market society. Blockchain is the underlying catalyst for this evolution. People in remote locations of the world, who previously didn’t have banking services, can now use cryptocurrency as a means to transact. Remittance is significantly cheaper, needing just a smartphone to transfer funds abroad. In this sense, blockchain has the potential to remove economic, political, and social borders for information sharing and expand to humanitarian initiatives.
Blockchain is the underlying catalyst the largest redistribution of wealth in human history.
New applications will enable transparency, fairness, equality and a truly democratic spirit. For example, another application of blockchain is called “Smart Contracts”, allowing businesses to automate agreements between two parties, removing social, economic and personal biases. Smart Contracts will not only function as an unbiased point of social consciousness but also profit from it.
Projects that will succeed are those which showcase blockchain’s unique features such as immutability, decentralized redundancy, programmable trust, open data, and programmatic security. However, one of the biggest challenges in blockchain is that many developers only have “crypto visibility”. Many cryptocurrency communities lack experience in real-world businesses or managing large companies. To legitimize blockchain-tech, the crypto community must collaborate with real-world, brick-and-mortar expertise.
A common mistake of new entrepreneurs is to utilize a new technology without notable gains in features or functionality. It’s not enough to wrap an old app into a new coat. Many projects today capitalize on the blockchain buzz in hopes of attracting rich cyber millionaires. They have little to offer in terms of improved features and benefits. Apps that use blockchain for no other reason, other than the name recognition, will fail. The projects that will succeed are those which showcase blockchain’s unique features such as immutability, decentralized redundancy, programmable trust, open source, and programmatic security.
The volatility of cryptocurrency attracts new players with its high risk-to-reward ratio. This hype brings attention, investment, and volatility to blockchain. Thus the cycle repeats through a roller coaster of profit and loss. When viewed from the standpoint of Roger’s Technology Adoption Curve, blockchain is currently in the Early Adopter stage. Likely this will continue into the next decade. This is supported by Gartner’s Hype Cycle ’18, which anticipates blockchain to mature in the next five to ten years.
Mentions of “cryptocurrency” and “blockchain” in mainstream media root into the general consciousness. Imagine trying to explain the Arpanet in the 80’s, before the Internet became an integral part of their daily life. With each surge in bitcoin value, new spectators take notice, establishing crypto as a household term. As more big players like Apple, Google and Amazon come on board, the average consumer will help to catapult blockchain into the stratosphere. The future may be closer than we realize, with evolving requests such as:
- Consumer: “Can I buy your product with bitcoin?”
- Corporate: “Can I pay your invoice with ethereum?”
- Government: “Can I pay my annual tax return with cryptocurrency?”
Alternatively, blockchain may not become a household name. For example, modern society enjoys access to electricity, gas, and water but have no idea that SCADA is used to operate those services. TCP/IP is well known amongst tech circles, but many don’t know that it is the underlying protocol used to surf the Internet. Blockchain is more analogous to TCP/IP than the “Internet”, in this sense. Blockchain may take on an underlying infrastructure role, but the mainstream may have no idea it’s there, “as long as it works!”
In crypto, there is long-term confidence. The market is certainly volatile and is not for the faint of heart, but the potential for cryptocurrencies is bright. This can be argued from several observations:
- Bitcoin continues to receive an influx of investment from mainstream users. With every spike in value, a new round of actors enters its market hysteria. There will continue to be spikes and corrections correlating with the adoption and the evolution of the technology, but as time goes on, the price bounces will become more stable as the technology and market mature.
- Tens of thousands proof of concepts around the world is a testament to blockchain’s potential success. Practically every vertical market is investigating the use of blockchain in their environment. Even if a fraction of them survive, it will further propel crypto into the mainstream.
- Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google (aka. FAANG, on Wall Street) continue to investigate the use of cryptocurrencies in their services. Once big players are on board, there will be a cascading effect of secondary and tertiary players following their lead.
In addition, there are three main factors mainly driving bitcoin and blockchain to the mainstream:
- The user experience and user interface (i.e. UI/UX) for applications need to improve in order to attract brick and mortar companies. Many blockchain projects are focused on offering a more robust experience for their users.
- Adoption is necessary to legitimize crypto into and connect cMarketplaces with mainstream eMarketplaces. As new users are enticed by Bitcoin’s hype, they also get “hooked” into the trading game. Once you’re in, you’re. Traders learn to adjust, to fluctuating market conditions, even if the market drops, they typically don’t abandon their investment – they look at the next opportunity.
- Stability is necessary to legitimize bitcoin. This has yet to play-out in crypto. But volatility attracts new players who have a high risk-to-reward ratio.
Blockchain will propagate due to its ability to flatten the world’s flow of information and data sharing capabilities. Applications that showcase such abilities will shine.
Gabriel Dusil is a sales and marketing expert with over 25 years in senior positions at Motorola, VeriSign (acquired by Symantec in 2010 for 1.250 billion US$), and SecureWorks (acquired by Dell in 2011 for 612 million US$), and Cognitive Security (acquired by Cisco in 2013 for 25 million US$). He is a blockchain entrepreneur, with strengths in international business strategy. Gabriel has a bachelor’s degree in Engineering Physics from McMaster University in Canada and expert knowledge in blockchain incubation, cloud computing, IT security, and video streaming, and Over the Top Content (OTT). Gabriel also runs his own company, Euro Tech Startups s.r.o., and manages a professional blog at https://dusil.com.