Can the Blockchain Exist Without Bitcoin?

The debate rages on… and the ZapChain community weighs in.

There has been a longstanding argument about bitcoin and its public general ledger known as the blockchain.

On one side of the fence is the belief that blockchain technology is worthless without bitcoin.

On the other side is the idea that the blockchain can survive without bitcoin the currency.

So… Which side is right?

We asked on ZapChain and here are some of the responses.

The blockchain can’t exist without bitcoin

The idea of a publicly available ledger of proof is an innovative feature of bitcoin.
Price of bitcoin over time (click to enlarge).

“The innovation is the blockchain and the currency bitcoin is just a catalyst.”

Ian Dixon, founder of SpaceLingo

Even so, the argument is that now that the blockchain is a publicly known technology part of bitcoin’s open source code, there is no longer a need for currency-like properties to back it.

Total size of the blockchain in MB over time (click to enlarge).

“Why should we cripple it as a “simple” money ledger while we could develop this technology to a much more interesting concept?”

— Davide Varni, Italian AML consultant

Blockchain-based startup Smart Contract is doing this, forgoing bitcoin and building programmable agreements without the need for a currency. IBM is working solely on blockchain technology for Internet of Things applications.

The blockchain must exist with bitcoin

Bitcoin as a currency has experienced staggering growth in value over its first five years.
Hash rate, or computational power, of the bitcoin network over time (click to enlarge).

“The currency as a financial incentive is one of the driving factors that enabled the bitcoin network to be so decentralized and massive.”

— Eric Kuhn, enthusiast

Critics of the idea that blockchain technology doesn’t need bitcoin point out that without the currency’s uptrend in value, no one would have ever heard of the blockchain anyways.

Miners revenue has gone down over the past year (click to enlarge).

“Miners need incentives to put in their resources. It would be hard to come up with a sustainable incentive model for other applications of the blockchain.”

— Kumar Srijan, founder, bitcoin stealth startup

Payments and decentralization provider BitPay is a strong proponent of bitcoin and blockchain technology. Gift card reseller Gyft believes in bitcoin the blockchain together are an asset for things like proof of ownership.

Interested in learning more about bitcoin?

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