Applications and Use Cases

Blockchain Tech to Expect in 2018

April 12, 2018

Bitcoin has soared to incredible heights. At the moment, it’s unclear as to whether the cryptocurrency is the victim of a bubble or if Bitcoin will be become a legitimate form of currency. Despite any doubts, the crypto coin, and its many imitators and descendants, are reaching astronomical highs in terms of volume and valuation.

What powers cryptocurrency? As you are probably aware, Bitcoin is open-source: the code and the mathematical proofs that power it are available to everyone. We call the underlying technology that makes cryptocurrency purportedly transparent and secure Blockchain, and Blockchain may very well be a bigger deal than Bitcoin itself.

There has been a great deal of press for Blockchain. Businesses, investors, and venture capitalists are expressing interest in the new ledger system. How does the ledger system generate value? That’s yet to be established, but it does seem that there is a possibility of creating wholly new applications through Blockchain that go beyond cryptocurrency.

“We're a long way from the blockchain fixing anything, let alone the internet or capitalism,” writes Lionel Laurent for Bloomberg. “But beyond the hype cycle lies a way for firms to funnel money into early-stage project finance.”

Currently, there’s a few projects that may shed some light on the future applications of Blockchain. As an online record-keeping system, it could be used to track, transfer, and log transactions of any kind. As such, there are some companies, such as Sony, that are developing blockchain applications to help consolidate credentials. So when hiring or training employees, their credentials are easy to find, instead of spread out on several databases.

In the case of Sony, they used to the Hyperledger fabric, a cross-industry Blockchain business initiative for their purposes. The Hyperledger project is comprised of hundreds of businesses and is a Linux-backed project. Hyperledger claims that they wish to help business develop their Blockchain technologies for their own purposes.

At the moment, it is still unclear what applications will evolve from it. Applications that have been proposed are partially implemented include supply chain management, health care processes and record-keeping, as well as transparent accounting.

“Blockchain is a foundational technology: It has the potential to create new foundations for our economic and social systems,” Karim R. Lakhani writes for the Harvard Business Review. “But while the impact will be enormous, it will take decades for blockchain to seep into our economic and social infrastructure. The process of adoption will be gradual and steady, not sudden, as waves of technological and institutional change gain momentum.”

The tech we might expect from projects such as these may not appear in any of our systems in the year to come, or any time soon, for that matter. In fact, actually integrating a new master ledger system for companies may not be immediately feasible, even if desirable, for many companies or organizations.

Many competent programmers and software engineers can use the Blockchain framework to make something of their own. Currently, we’ve seen mostly cryptocurrencies being digitally minted without any real sort of implementation plan or infrastructure in place. Certainly, Blockchain isn’t quite as useful for the individual as it may have thought to have been, at least at the moment.

Moving forward, we will see interest in the technology surge and wane, just as interest for cryptocurrencies have in the last year. Whether Blockchain is a wave to ride or a foundational technology will largely be up to the organizations that choose to embrace the tech. How will they choose to impact their company, their employees, and their industry? A measured approach with a peer-to-peer, transparent ledger system is advised, but what approaches will be taken has yet to be seen. There are some barriers to Blockchain generating true value, but there are even more possibilities for the applications that may spring out of it.

Edited by Mandi Nowitz



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