Blockchain has quickly become a polarizing figurehead for a new generation of optimistic innovators. And though much of the attention is stuck covering the transient, yet lucrative financial returns found in cryptocurrency markets, the long-term implications of the backend technology may turn out to be 100x more impactful.
At a high level, as defined by CBInsights, "Blockchain technology offers a way for untrusted parties to reach agreement (consensus) on a common digital history. A common digital history is important because digital assets and transactions are in theory easily faked and/or duplicated. Blockchain technology solves this problem without using a trusted intermediary."
We can leverage these core tenets to solve for a number of organizational issues around trust, authentication, and verification that have challenged society for decades. We can make the industry dramatically more efficient, automated, and secure. While the actual timetable for wide-scale consumer and enterprise adoption is largely variable, there are interesting applications coming sooner than you may think.
Here are 4 revolutions, only made possible by an advancing blockchain economy, that will disrupt conventional business as we know it and how we interact with one another. Live, as we know it, will never be the same again. That's because this technology is bringing a level of transparency and decentralization that will have massive life-changing ramifications we are only just beginning to fully appreciate.
1. The eradication of cyber-attacks and fraud
By 2021, annual cyber crime damages will reach $6 trillion. This is a massive cost to both everyday consumers as well as leading enterprises. To counter this onslaught, experts predict that cybersecurity spending will exceed a massive $1 trillion from 2017 to 2021. Clearly, defending our data and information is and will continue to be of high priority for years to come.
Luckily, blockchain has built-in defense mechanisms to protect against cyber attacks and data manipulation. Diving further into the nuances of blockchain, we can understand that, core to the "digital history," is an immutable and cryptographically encrypted ledger that contains and stores our information.
By design, blockchains are innately resistant to modification, and are hashed to prevent cyber attacks. This is especially important for large enterprises. TraDove, a company offering a token that utilizes this exact functionality, is building an enterprise blockchain platform. This is the first step of many to help make the B2B space more accessible and efficient.
In addition, the distributed nature of the ledger greatly diminishes the threat of a centralized hack, given that all of the power is spread out amongst a number of independent nodes. Hackers can no longer simply find their way into one unguarded, inner component of a system. It is virtually impossible to bring down a network when all of the gates and defense mechanisms are hosted across a number of self-governed processors. This technology can also be extended to begin defending our data in the cloud, as well as a part of the Internet of Things.
2. A distributed system of power
For centuries, and perhaps dating back to our earliest civilizations, humans have taken to organizing around a central authority or power. All modern governments, or large organizations for that matter, (governments, companies, etc.) have been structured in such a way that a minority group has influence over the residing majority. Although this arrangement makes sense in many cases, as it can be more efficient, there are many networks where a centralized source of power poses significant threats to the health and fairness of the system.
Decentralized networks, as created by blockchains, can supersede the need for a single figure-head. The problem with entrusting one human (or even a small group) is that they can be corrupted to fudge or manipulate data. The ledger, however, automatically timestamps and stores each and every change to the "transaction data," meaning that everyone in the network, with proper access, can see and verify any changes and history made to the log. This protects against corruption or abuse, and restores power back to the individual as information asymmetry is no longer a cost.
You can already begin to imagine how big the downstream effects of a decentralized system can be when operated at scale - look at government, healthcare, etc. A financially inclusive world, made by possible by blockchain startups like Telcoin, will advance an entire new ecosystem of modern finance. They, among a few other players in the space, are advancing mobile finance globally, enabling easy conversion between telecom mobile money, prepaid credit, and postpaid billing platforms.
3. A completely new way to fundraise
Conventional fundraising models for startups have been reserved for those with access to investors. And while this has largely benefited residents of Silicon Valley, who have immediate admission into a row of venture capitalists, on a macroeconomic scale, this has proven to be inefficient, as the majority of people with ideas and talent do not have admittance into this elitist group.
Initial coin offerings (ICOs), made possible via a blockchain and smart contracts, have the poise to become the de facto fundraising instrument for teams located all across the globe. Not only do they provide a more accessible avenue for crowdfunding capital, but they also do so without compromising security and speed.
For instance, ConnectJob, "poised to be the Uber of the blockchain economy," is issuing a token offering that will help them raise millions of dollars (USD) of capital. And, as their team (and community) is located all around the globe, this would likely not have been made possible, in as quickly or efficiently of a manner, without the invent of a coin offering. It will be interesting to see how startups backed by coin offerings differ from those who went through conventional fundraising models. Will venture capitalists exist 20 years from now?
4. Alternative access to existing institutions
Many of our legacy institutions have limited and exclusive access to elite and exclusive institutions and resources. Where schools like Harvard and Stanford have for centuries only opened their doors to a few select individuals and even those are often the descendants or offspring of graduates of these elite institutions, companies like ODEM.IO are pioneering decentralized marketplaces.
Here, tenured, career professors from such schools can interface directly with students outside the university (or even the country) to crowdsource new models of credentialed education using decentralized ledger and blockchain technologies.
With the introduction of these new opportunities could leave open the question of how viable a permanent future for education as we know it might be. And just as Airbnb and Uber have the landscape of accommodations and local transport unrecognizable to something from only a decade prior, we will eagerly await what the future might look like, in a world where verified and trusted interactions between individuals become as could change the face of institutional hierarchy as we know it.