Applications and Use Cases

Is Blockchain Really a Decade Away? Current Events Tell Us Otherwise


July 02, 2020
By Special Guest
Owen Hanks, Measure Protocol -

Blockchain is being applied in a multitude of industries to solve transparency and privacy challenges, just to name a couple. Food manufacturers are using it to track their supply chains, healthcare is exploring using it for patient data and blockchain is being put to work in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak. So why are some saying that widespread adoption of blockchain is a decade away?

I believe it is because blockchain is different from some other technical advancements, and possibly less understood. The benefits and convenience of things like the internet, smartphones and cloud computing were more immediately seen as broadly applicable, as they allowed us to communicate and work with others easily. For example, we already had local networks, so we were familiar with the functionality. Taking the leap to connecting these networks together - with everyone, everywhere - wasn’t difficult.

Blockchain doesn’t deliver that obvious and immediate improvement for the average person. Blockchain may end up touching everyone on the planet, just as the internet has, but not in such a recognizable manner.

People will at least occasionally use bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, our political polling and voting processes may start to use blockchain-based networks, and we will likely have our home mortgages, car leases and other contracts memorialized on a blockchain. However, the use of blockchain itself will be hidden to most average people, and function in the background.

With just about every major financial institution all the way to retail giants like Walmart making investments in blockchain, it’s hard to see how this can be just a passing fad. Thus, we are left with the question as to whether or not blockchain is still a decade away? The answer ultimately isn’t a binary one. We likely won’t look back in 10 years and see any definitive moment breakthrough on adoption. Instead I predict that we will look back in a decade and take note of all the incremental successes and phases that have led to a number of benefits that can be attributed, at least partially, to the adoption of blockchain over the years.

Widespread issues surrounding transparency, governance, privacy, and accountability are becoming increasingly important. Unless there is a major derailment, the trajectory is imminent where the winners and losers will be those who can operate under new rules of engagement. Meanwhile as a society, and with each successive generation, operating with these issues in mind will become part of the fabric of daily life. While we have many people pontificating on the merits of pursuing solutions that put things like privacy first, people still don’t understand the value.

Blockchain is being put to use in several different “microcosms” that illustrate this value. For example, my company is on route to building a public infrastructure for running research about humans, providing them the ability to take custody of their data, and monetize it in a safe and secure environment, when and if they choose to do so. This approach solves some immediate problems - like data sovereignty and privacy - now, through the benefits of a blockchain-powered solution. While this may look like a fairly standard product offering in order to obtain initial critical mass adoption, its real success will be realized on a trajectory that in retrospect will look simply obvious. This is the case in other spaces using blockchain as well.

In another decade, things will look much different than they do today and even much different than our predictions may imply.. After all, at one point we were all just fine with a mobile phone that required a purse to carry it around in. We all understood mobile was the direction, but didn’t have the imagination or crystal ball to understand how impactful it would be on every single person. Blockchain adoption promises to take much the same path, perhaps with a less visible trajectory. It is not, in fact, a decade away. The transformation is happening right in front of us, right now.

About the author: Owen Hanks, CEO and co-founder of Measure Protocol (www.measureprotocol.com), has spent the past 25 years leading high-growth technology businesses and building teams across Europe. In 2009 he founded Appealing Media, the first mobile application advertising network in the UK.   


 

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