The potential of blockchain stretches far beyond and high above any of the buzz you hear surrounding cryptocurrency trading profits and initial coin offering deals. The long term, 25-year view of the technology persuasively explains how its core features show the promise to serve, if implemented effectively, as cornerstone solutions to mankind's most foundational problems.
With widely-scaled decentralized systems, we can eradicate fraud, automate manual processes, and control for issues of authentication and trust. The power of blockchain can enable humans to redefine legacy architectures of governance and law, reinvigorating lost concepts of true democracy and meritocracy.
While the time horizon for a "blockchain based" future is variable, especially with the volatility in the space, there are some inevitable components of this expected world that both consumers and enterprises should begin thinking about. Here are three trends to look out for during this blockchain revolution:
1. No more intermediaries
Many of the international economy's most valuable industries are stagnated by middlemen, who dictate costs, timing, and regulation. Think big, unsexy sectors of the global supply chain that are lagging years behind technological standards.
The advertising industry, for example, is one of the largest markets in the world, making it an ideal candidate for blockchain technology. In terms of transparency between buyers and sellers, blockchain technology can not only help tackle the inaccurate valuation of inventory, but it can also give both parties a clear understanding of the pricing and fees of goods and services. Blockchain can help ensure that advertisers avoid fraudulent traffic, provide better confidentiality for all participants, and minimize middleman involvement. Applying blockchain technology to advertising is the first step in disrupting this multi-billion industry in a way that benefits both publishers and advertisers alike. For an extremely well written white paper on this topic by the company making this happen, check out the Blockchain Programmatic Corporation.
With blockchain, we can substitute expensive, error-prone intermediary parties for algorithms that never make mistakes and run without human intervention. The result is a cleaner marketplace that operates more efficiently than conventional models of organization.
Centralized systems, by nature, are often subject to bias and unfairness. There is massive risk involved when leaving all of the network's data in one group's hands. Decentralized networks, however, distribute and mitigate the risk, such that no party can make alterations to the truth.
Another massive benefit is that we will no longer have to worry about authenticating trust and verifying access to important information. Currently, enterprises hold massive risk by storing their information in a central location.
If even one employee leaks out information, all of their data can be compromised. Smart contracts, built on top of an Ethereum (or a substitute's) blockchain, can be developed to automatically confirm points of access within a network, therein reducing the need for individual authentication currently performed by manual intermediaries.
Blockchain marketplaces are inherently more secure than conventional alternatives. The nature of the public ledger is that all of the data is encrypted and protected, such that no single party has the power to manipulate any information. Startups can leverage this innate power of blockchain to secure millions of data points across a system.
For instance, look at the growing world of digital gaming. Currently, there are no safe environments for gamers to conduct transactions (buying, selling, trading) on the millions of digital collectibles earned each and every year.
As a result, consumers have been relying on fraudulent forums, acting as standing marketplaces to provide for the huge demand. These makeshift platforms were built for speed, not security, and are now paying the consequences, as they are home to cyber-attacking and unsafe practices.
Blockchain startup, Gameflip (an incumbent digital goods marketplace), is launching their upcoming coin offering of FLIP, a crypto-token, made to scale the peer-level buying, selling, and trading of digital goods for the video game industry.
They are able to achieve what so many other players have failed to do: provide a secure and standardized ecosystem for gamers to conduct transactions, all powered by the blockchain. This is one of many scenarios where the blockchain solution is exactly what was needed for all stakeholders to win out.
3. Financial tools and digital assets
The volatility of cryptocurrencies, as we know them today, are perhaps the final blocker preventing principal investors from diving in on this new age economy. It is hard to justify the extreme risk involved with investing in these currencies when operating in a largely unregulated market. Rampant scamming, as well as uneducated market players, make the environment challenging to work in.
Inevitably, we will solve for the turbulent environment with alternative investment vehicles.
Jibrel, another blockchain startup, is holding a token sale with hopes to give investors a stable, predictable investing platform. They are issuing compliant tokens, backed by the valuation of real world assets, to further collateralize their digital coins. Effectively, they are commoditizing and securitizing many digital assets such that they follow "real-world rules and regulations, deployed directly onto the Ethereum blockchain."
This is one massive step forward in developing a more standardized environment around the digital economy. Companies like SparkleCoin are driving this expansion and adoption, by developing architectures that enable everyday consumers to spend cryptocurrencies at scale. They are providing access to major online stores, like Target, Walmart, Overstock, and Amazon, to provide a stable and secure outlet for real world, crypto transactions.
This is all part of a massive movement among the blockchain community, working to make the technology ubiquitous across industries and sectors.