Most everyone is familiar with Bitcoin, Ethereum, and maybe some of the derivatives or competitors; there are several variations of blockchains unleashed on the world today. Many are predicting these digital currencies to be where the value of the economy of the future will be stored- the currency of the future. A complete digital transformation of not only currency, but the entire economy. If anything close to this comes to pass, will you be ready?
Block chain and distributed ledger technologies in general still have a number of technical and practical challenges to overcome before mainstream adoption is possible. These challenges are being actively worked, both in government and private enterprise so it is likely only a matter of time before the challenges are solved (or worked around). This has not slowed the hype machine down a bit however, if anything, the “get in early” flag waving is spurring speculation even more, including new investment structures such as the ICO (Initial Coin Offering). The bet, buying into an ICO, is that the value of the tokens, or coins, themselves will increase in value.
Blockchain based transactions are already commonplace on the dark web. As the technologies progress, expect them to be used in novel ways by government and military, inter-banking transactions and financial settlement as the obvious areas for application. Also look for the novel, like CryptoKitties. Given the history of the Web and cats, we really shouldn’t be surprised by this.
On the more enterprise side of things, we are also seeing novel and practical applications of blockchain being worked on or actively put into place within financial services, legal practice, transportation and logistics, and many others. Many see blockchain and distributed ledger technology as the holy grail to the inefficiencies and provenance issues within their industry.
And then there are the open source projects. Emerging technology these days is usually accompanied or fostered by the open source community and block chain is no different. The Hyperledger project is worth taking a look at for those interested in implementing some form of distributed ledger in your business.
As if that is not enough, what happens (what does happen?) when AI/ML and blockchain are converged? Expect this to be hot topic in 2018 with established and new players entering the market aiming for game-changing solutions.
The question for each of us, is, how can blockchain upset the apple cart in my industry, and what do I want my role to be in that? This is not to say you should run out and buy into blockchain or any particular coin or exchange- but you absolutely need to understand the kinds of sweeping changes that blockchain is likely to bring to not only industry, but also your personal life.
Some interesting further reading on recent developments related to blockchain:
- ICO – https://www.investopedia.com/terms/i/initial-coin-offering-ico.asp
- Bitcoin in Germany – https://www.wsj.com/articles/bitcoin-finds-a-home-in-cash-loving-germany-1515330000
(This one is interesting because Germany has remained largely cash based, credit and debit cards never caught on there the same way as in the U.S.A.)
- Blockchain in logistics – https://techcrunch.com/2018/03/02/blockchain-will-work-in-trucking-but-only-if-these-three-things-happen/?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000629
- If you can’t sell the oil – https://www.theverge.com/2018/2/20/17031720/venezuela-cryptocurrency-petro-oil-reserves-diamonds-inflation