The blockchain industry has reached new heights in 2019 with increased awareness and legitimacy. Industry titans such as Facebook, Wal-Mart, and Salesforce have all publicized their intentions of utilizing blockchain technology in their day to day operations.
While critics could make the argument that blockchain was designed to prevent monopolistic behavior or dominance from the usual suspects, it is hard to argue that the perception of blockchain has changed drastically in the public eye since 2017.
Predicted to be a $23 billion industry by 2023, the blockchain industry is now grabbing the attention of legacy corporations, entrepreneurs, and governments as a real and applicable solution to many problems.
With this being said, the industry is still nascent and has many challenges to overcome. These include scalability, security, education, interoperability, costs, speed, and more.
To learn more about these challenges and what is needed to reach mass adoption, we asked entrepreneurs who are working endlessly to build blockchain solutions for the world:
1. Colin Pape, Founder of Presearch
In my opinion, there are multiple significant challenges facing blockchain projects. These include the massive network effects from incumbent competitors such as Facebook, Google and Amazon, banking cartels and payment processors. Second, ongoing security concerns that are omnipresent due to the use of blockchain technology as a currency. Lastly, it is very difficult to convert accumulated blockchain value to tangible real-world value.
We are in the early days of the next paradigm of value exchange and participation on the internet, and there will be major growing pains.
That said, those projects that figure out how to combine seamless user experiences, gamified rewards that incentivize usage and anti-abuse mechanisms to protect the value of their currency, with actual consumer utility will be well-positioned to lead the masses toward a future where users control their data and are rewarded constantly as they take an active role in crafting the services the trust and rely on.
Find more about Colin’s project: https://presearch.io/
2. Ken DiCross, Founder of Airwire
I see 3 key components that will open up the floodgates for the general public to enter the space is mass. First, financial gain propositions for individuals. Second, applications with ease of use on par or better than the traditional economies they are looking to disrupt. Lastly, established companies using the first two components to convert their main backend systems to blockchain
Blockchain will grow the fastest by converting large allies and their established networks currently on the sidelines. This is arguably the slowest process of the 3 mentioned above. Companies, even when faced with clear advantages to new systems and processes, are often hesitant to pull the trigger. Education, security assurances, and large cost saving advantages will expedite the conversion time. The last few months with Whole Foods, Facebook, and others, has been a monumental shift in our favor
All of us in this space should have a primary focus on the individual user. We have to ask ourselves, “What makes someone download and use an app every day?” It’s quite simple. It adds perceived value to their lives and it functions so well that the user doesn’t need or care where the technology behind the app has been produced. It just works! We need use cases and platforms that are indistinguishable from traditional competitors that force users to evaluate on something other than how easy it is to use a product. The evaluation needs to be based on compelling financial incentives for the user rather than traditional businesses where the large corporations are collecting the lion’s share of profits.
The future discussed above is an economy where users are financially incentivized in ways the world has never seen. Distributed economies will be a hard pill to swallow as company profits will be diminished on a large scale. Companies, just like fiat, will have to play by these rules or they will go extinct. Cryptocurrencies and blockchain development are moving at such a pace that this paradigm shift is within sight.
Find more about Ken’s project: https://airwire.io/
3. Jag Singh, Co-founder & CEO of Vid
For blockchain to have mass adoption, the industry needs buy-in from both average consumers and major industries. We’re seeing the likes of IBM, Amazon, JP Morgan and other major companies are not only using blockchain technology but starting to offer blockchain-enabled services to their clients and partners. However, the average consumer isn’t using any applications or services that are built on the blockchain because of usability and trust hurdles.
For mass adoption, the market needs ‘blockchain-hidden’ applications that are either built into existing consumer products or built as alternatives to today’s products/services. One industry that is primed for disruption by blockchain is the social media industry. Social media, with nearly 3 billion monthly active users worldwide, has faced major data privacy and censorship issues in recent history and consumers are looking for alternatives to use instead of giants such as Facebook and YouTube.
Legitimate blockchain-based social networks are starting to see major influencers, and their following, move away from traditional social media and to blockchain alternatives thanks to the security, transparency and trust that comes with using blockchain tech.
Current challenges facing the blockchain industry include regulatory uncertainty, adoption issues, and cryptocurrency volatility. Regulation is being decided on a country-by-country basis in perhaps the fastest growing and most global industry we’ve ever seen. To make matters worse, regulation varies drastically from one country to another and the future is uncertain, making it difficult for startups to fully understand the implications of domiciling their company in one country versus another. Governments are inherently slow at making decisions given the bureaucracy at hand.
Find more about Jag’s project: https://vid.camera/
4. Robert Küfner, Founder of Advanced Blockchain
Since mining Bitcoin in 2010, I have seen the world of cryptocurrency and blockchain advance from offering an alternative monetary solution to becoming incorporated into the roadmaps of large companies. A company I co-founded, Advanced Blockchain AG, a German publicly listed consultancy and software-as-a-service company, was founded with a mission statement to lead enterprise clients into the world of decentralization.
ABAG is working with multiple enterprise clients including one of Germany’s largest automotive companies. In order to further the vision of decentralization, we believe there needs to be significant diligence with how these companies implement distributed ledger technology. For this reason, we are expanding to the United States through the German Accelerator, a government-funded program, to bring German tech companies to America.
This lack of standardization prompted our company to develop peaq.io, which is our response to the inefficiencies plaguing today’s existing protocols in the broader blockchain ecosystem. Thus far, there have not been many decentralized applications underpinned by blockchain that have made their way to the public markets, and hence when designing peaq.io’s DaGChain system, we made it a priority to ensure the protocol was as usable as possible.
As we have seen with Facebook, several enterprise companies are trying to find ways to make blockchain usable, and a source of convenience for its users, while offering significant revenue potential. Such moves have enabled new innovation possibilities, something ABAG has mastered by working in the largest industries in Germany and will continue to support to help make blockchain mainstream.
Find more about Robert’s project: https://www.advancedblockchain.com/
5. Ken Misuma, CMO of Quras
We see blockchain as the next technology revolution following the internet era. For blockchain to gain global adoption, our industry needs to make it easy for people to use everyday applications that are built on the blockchain. Taking lessons in mass adoption from successful, tech-driven industries such as digital finance, global payments, and online gaming, we need to allow blockchain technology to blend into the background of people’s daily activities. Blockchain technology needs to add new value to the average consumer beyond current technology constraints.
A use case that is often highlighted is how blockchain can provide financial inclusion to over 2 billion unbanked people in the world through fast, verified, and secure payment networks. Just like with any new service, product, or technology, if consumers find that it adds value to their lives, it will be adopted by the masses.
Since the blockchain marketplace is only a decade old and still quite nascent, there are many challenges that the industry has to face. Even as the digital currency markets saw a major bear market for much of the last year, more people, companies, and governments are believing in blockchain technology.
One of the biggest challenges the industry faces is regulatory. Regulation balance is important to support the growth of the industry and facilitate adoption, however regulation as a whole is moving slowly relative to the speed of this marketplace. If regulation is too strict, it will destroy promising startups. If regulation is too loose, it will allow frauds to participate in the market without consequences. Regulation can be seen as both a challenge and an opportunity as regulatory balance and flexibility are key to industry growth while building trust and support from the global populace.
Find more about Ken’s project: https://quras.io/en/
6. Alesandro Toumi, CEO & Founder of Neutro.io
Blockchain sometimes feels as though it’s the first technology that expects to be adopted at scale without being as rich and usable as the technology or system it’s replacing. While there’s a lot wrong with fiat systems in terms of accessibility, blockchain isn’t there yet in terms of being truly decentralized, diverse, efficient and easy to use for anyone.
Blockchains themselves are inefficient, with trade-offs being made within the protocol that means scalability, security and decentralization are seen as mutually exclusive — the so-called ‘trilemma’ highlighted by Vitalk Buterin. Blockchains typically are introspective, unable to assimilate values from the real world without deferring to oracles, and effectively centralizing the whole system.
I created the Neutro protocol to make mass adoption and mass availability possible for decentralized systems. The first step has been to create a protocol that is efficient and solves the trilemma. This means a faster, secure, and efficient blockchain that is scalable and still completely decentralized. It can reach its own consensus on external values using a novel voting structure. This has huge implications as almost any real-world market can exist on the blockchain from financial markets to insurance to simple transactions in a completely decentralized way.
The final step must be how usable the technology is. At Neutro, we believe that mass adoption comes with scalability and a diverse range of use cases with a blockchain that is almost as diverse as current financial systems.
Find more about Alesandro’s project: https://neutro.io/