Is Blockchain Still Years Away from Providing Consumer Value?

I attended yesterday’s first ever Token Summit. The consensus (no pun intended) is that it’s at least 2–3 years away from providing consumer value.

I was fortunate to attend yesterday’s first ever sold-out Token Summit. The atmosphere was charged with innovation, creativity, excitement and optimism. From the perspective of a blockchain consumer, I left with a feeling of tempered optimism.

Blockchain’s In the Infrastructure Buildout Stage of Evolution

The general consensus (not Consensus, the other blockchain conference I attended last week…) was we’re in the blockchain infrastructure buildout stage. Fred Wilson compared this to where the Internet was in the late 90’s.

That was a time when a lot of the Internet’s infrastructure was built. This included lots of compute power in server farms in data centers. The compute power was connected by big bandwidth pipes and the hardware required to create them.

The infrastructure was and still is needed to run applications. Applications are what the consumer uses to interact with the Internet.

The consumer doesn’t care how their Amazon purchase gets to them. The consumer cares that the Amazon site is available when they need it. The infrastructure makes sure the site is available. It’s invisible to the consumer. Unless something breaks. Then that’s a different story.

This is the same stage the Token Summit speakers believe blockchain is in now. Individuals, non-profit foundations, like the Ethereum Foundation, and companies are building the blockchain infrastructure.

The blockchain infrastructure is required for blockchain apps to run on top of it. Blockchain apps are what consumers will use to interact with blockchains.

How About the Consumer Apps?

Coming back to Fred, he believes it will take about 10 years to build the blockchain infrastructure. That doesn’t mean 10 years from now though.

That means 10 years from…when? As Fred said, it’s hard to say when the infrastructure started to be built.

It was generally agreed, by Fred and others, the infrastructure build-out is well underway. The speakers also seemed to agree that we’d start seeing blockchain applications gain widespread adoption in 2–3 years.

So where does that leave the blockchain consumer? For now, there are plenty of applications starting to enter the market. They’re entering in very early stages.

The Ground Floor Opportunity

That means we have the chance to get in on the ground floor. We get to test them, provide feedback and shape how they evolve. We also get to invest in those we believe in.

All of this feels exciting to me. How about you?

Follow this publication, as I continue writing about my experiences working to unlock blockchain’s consumer value.

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