Bitcoin receives all the headlines and notoriety today. In contrast, Blockchain technology, the underlying computer science breakthrough that makes Bitcoin possible, is rarely discussed. However, it is Blockchain technology that’s on the brink of changing the world, as a truly disruptive innovation.
What does Blockchain technology represent as an achievement? Well, it may be best described as a decentralised database (or ledger) with network enforced processes for updating the database. It is a general purpose technology that can be applied to disrupt any centralised system that coordinates valuable information. Blockchain technology affords users a high level of transparency through its ledger, a very resilient decentralised platform (i.e. no central point to attack), network enforced security and openness, and high cost efficiency (i.e. no middlemen). Blockchain has the potential to irreversibly change data intensive industries, rather than capital intensive industries. As a result, in the future, data intensive industries like finance, gaming, communications, and media stand to be positively disrupted.
Recently, most coverage has been given to the disruption of the finance industry by Blockchain technology startups. This trend will continue to grow as there are over four billion unbanked people in the world. Through the use of Blockchain technology, this vast demographic can have their financial needs, economically serviced. A result that will be achieved via lower cost of transactions (from no middleman), faster money transfers, the ability to send small amounts of money (future for Internet of Things), publicly auditable exchanges, and stopping market manipulation (think: LIBOR rate scandal).
In gaming, Blockchain delivers to its users, prove-ability and fair gambling benefits. For example, once a gambling outcome has been determined, interested parties may backtrack through the “chain” to verify no rigging of odds or cheating took place. Blockchain based casinos, like Chancecoin provide a high level of service and transparency to its user base.
The data and communications industry can be made more effective by providing censorship resistant communications (Bitmessage) – allowing for a P2P network to thrive from decentralisation encryption.
Blockchain technology has plenty of potential to disrupt and benefit the rapidly growing “sharing economy” through the construction of big networks that directly connect producers and consumers. The value is not derived from the technology, but from the network effects these sharing companies manage to secure. For example LaZooz, which is a decentralised transportation platform owned by the community, which utilises vehicles’ unused space to create a variety of smart transportation solutions. By using Blockchain technology La`Zooz works with a “Fair Share” rewarding mechanism for developers, users and backers. The platform will synchronize empty seats with transportation needs in real-time, matching like-minded people to create a great ride-sharing experience for a “Fair fare”.
Cloud computing is being disrupted by Blockchain technology. Zennet Supercomputer is a new startup offering supercomputer access without super costs. What it does, is it uses providers idle computing power at times when it is not being used (think: when a provider is sleeping). It also enables connection with many other computer providers around the world. Half of the computing power around the world is not used at night. When compared to Amazon’s corporate cloud service, Zennet is much more economical as it does not incur operating expenses like hardware, real estate, or IT. Businesses are able to cut expenses by using Zennet, and providers are able to earn money for renting out their computing power. Another Blockchain technology based startup disrupting the Cloud computing space is Storj, which provides its users a decentralised file storage system. It’s a very compelling service to emerge with a multifaceted value proposition that solves the challenges faced today in Big Data, Decentralized Storage, and File Sharing.
Will we soon live in a decentralised future? Think of the many possibilities there exist to develop P2P energy networks, P2P communication networks, P2P logistics networks, and even Blockchain-powered Internet of Things. The opportunities are endless it seems. For most people, it’s very hard to predict what’s in store next. Almost every technology that ends up disrupting things, is over hyped. There is a hype cycle – people get more excited in the short term than is justified. Over more time, this leads to a cumulative set of deliverables that have grown so massive that certainly there’s some form of breakthrough. Many people were even sceptical of the internet, they said there wouldn’t be a significant amount of music listened too, or there wouldn’t be a significant amount of videos watched. For a long time this was true, until suddenly there was a tipping point, where a significant number of people had become used to the way the internet could better work satisfying their needs. Now, it’s hard to say when exactly this tipping point will be reached with Blockchain technology, but one thing is for certain, its hype is picking up speed, and there is substance behind the hype that will herald a new tide of interesting disruptive innovations far beyond just Bitcoin.