Last year, Sir Tim Berners-Lee revealed his new vision, one where the internet becomes decentralised again as he originally had envisioned it. His technology is called Solid POD. It will allow every internet user to store their own data, be it video; articles; wearable tracking data or comments, and share that with anyone or any website that has connected to the Solid ecosystem.
Using the Solid POD, the user will remain in full control over their data and who has access to it and who not. A great new initiative that will hopefully bring us closer to a decentralised society where data is owned by those who created it, privacy is protected, security is a given, and distributed ledger technology will enable trustless transactions among individuals, organisations and things.
However, distributed ledger technology, which includes blockchains, is still a very nascent technology, and the complete ecosystem is still under development. To achieve a decentralised society, many more components need to be built, requiring global standards and significant investments. I estimate that it will take another 3–5 years before the ecosystem is ready for full-scale, enterprise adoption. Fortunately, many startups are working on various components of this decentralised ecosystem.
1. Infrastructure layer
Those applications that aim to create an infrastructure layer on which others can develop applications. Public blockchains include Ethereum, EOS, and Nxt, while private blockchains include Ripple, Hyperledger, MultiChain, and Chain.
2. Consensus mechanisms
Required to ensure the state of the network and determining which node can validate transactions. There are numerous consensus algorithms available, ranging from Proof of Work, Proof of Stake and many others.
3. Distributed computing
Using distributed ledger technology to distribute your computing requirements. Basically, cloud computing but then decentralised. Examples include Golem and Sonem.
4. Distributed storage
Distributed data storage is especially important when you want to be sure that data can always be accessed, regardless of restrictions some countries have. Examples include Storj, IFPD, and FileCoin.
5. Privacy and identity
Services that are focused on developing a self-sovereign identity and ensuring that data of internet users is kept private and personal. Examples include Sovrin, uPort, Civic, and Blockstack.
6. Money transactions
There are three different types of tokens: currency, utility, or security tokens. Currency tokens, meaning cryptocurrencies, are used to make financial transactions, and the most well-known is, of course, Bitcoin. Others include ZCash, Bitcoin Cash, or Monero.
Of course, all those cryptocurrencies need to be kept somewhere. Wallets are the bank accounts of the crypto world. You can have hot wallets (connected to the internet) or cold wallets (disconnected from the internet). Examples include MyEtherWallet, Jaxx, Exodus, or Trezor.
Like with stocks in companies, tokens need to be exchanged, so there is a range of centralised and decentralised exchanges. Centralised exchanges have the risk of being hacked, which is not possible with a decentralised exchange. Examples of centralised exchanges include Bitfi- nex, Bitstamp, Coinbase, or Kraken. Examples of decentralised exchanges include 0x, bisq, bitshares, or EtherDelta.
9. Industry applications
Every industry can use DLT to improve collaboration, enable provenance, speed up transaction settlements, or enable transparency. Examples per industry include:
· Healthcare — hashed health, MedRec, Gem, or Nebula Genomics.
· Legal — Integra Ledger, Aragon, or Otonomos.
· Media — Steem.it, Akasha, Synereo, or Backfeed.
· Internet of Things — IOTA, Chain of Things, Atonomi, or IoT Chain.
· Real estate — Ubiquity, Meridio, ManageGo, or Atlant.
· Banks — Change, Bitwala, Bancor, or Moni.
· Insurance — Etherisc, Immediate, Fidential, or B3i.
· Supply chain — Everledger, Blockverify, Omnichain, or Provenance.
· Logistics — ShipChain, CargoX, FreshTruf, or OriginTrail.
· Energy — LO3 Energy, PowerLedger, Grid Singularity, or SolarCoin.
· Retail — Lolli, Shopin, Ripe.io, or Beam.
Of course, the above list is by far not a definite list, and the list will continue to change the more decentralised technology is being developed. However, although blockchain can be beneficial to all industries, it does not mean that every problem requires a decentralised solution. A decentralised solution is only required when there is a trust issue (which generally happens when individuals, organisations or things want to collaborate across organisational borders or between individuals) and when a transaction is taking place. In other occasions, DLT is not the required technology, and you are better of using cloud computing technology.
Are you working on a technology for the decentralised ecosystem that is missing here, is there a layer missing or do you believe that the DLT ecosystem will be completed faster than 3–5 years? Join the discussion below and let me know your thoughts. Thanks.
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Dr Mark van Rijmenam is the founder of Datafloq, he is a globally recognised speaker on big data, blockchain and AI, strategist and author of 3 management books: Think Bigger, Blockchain and The Organisation of Tomorrow. You can read a free preview of my latest book here. Connect with me on LinkedIn or say hi on Twitter mentioning this story.
If you would like to talk to me about any advisory work or speaking engagements then you can contact me at https://vanrijmenam.nl