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BW Businessworld

No Limit To Future Use Of Blockchain Technology

From Blockchain financial transactions to smart contract-driven real estate contracts, one thing will not change -- ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’

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Blockchain has been largely perceived as financial industry 2.0. While it certainly has the potential to enable fintech transformation, let’s get our basics in place. Bitcoin has been the first application of Blockchain. However, it is not the same. The relationship is similar to Mickey Mouse/Alice in Wonderland as the earlier productions of Walt Disney.

The idea was conceived in 2008. A whole decade has passed to evolve the use cases. This was similar to the time when after the Bronze Age — the heavy ‘potters wheel’ got transformed to the wooden water wheel in 2,000 years and then the artillery wheel in another 1,500 years (about 1790). While the wooden water wheel was a disruption of its times, it led to several developments such as wooden chariots which were the war machines then.

Cryptography was used as an espionage tool in the early days. It further evolved into digital signatures, SSL certificates and Blockchain, among various other applications. Over a period, technology is absorbed in our day-to-day lives — TCP/IP which replaced circuit switching, helped the application of email in the worldwide web boom. Unicorns like Netscape and Yahoo were born.

While the skyrocketing valuations of Priceline.com seemed funny in hindsight, we might also take the current Blockchain boom ludicrously. So far, Blockchain has not transformed life (like the internal combustion engine). However, it has delivered strong proof of concepts like digital currency and identity management. Imagine that voting need not happen in poll booths and will happen on individual devices post-identity verification. Billions of dollars of paper, infrastructure and manpower would be saved. Quick results and possibly much higher participation in the electoral process. The following generations would have wondered why it took so long for leaders to move away from paper ballots.

Smart contracts implementation would reduce the need for intermediaries — lawyers, police and arbitrators. In financial transactions, Letter of Credit/ Documentary credit advising charges, which again is a multi-billion inefficiency generating action, can be discarded. Again the cost and speed of settlement of international trade transactions are far more efficient while using the Blockchain backbone.

In the advertising technology space, there are already issues like user privacy management and bot clicks which can be efficiently dealt with using this technology. In a world where users’ digital identity is so relevant, regulations for protecting this from misuse is essential (Facebook Cambridge Analytica case).

Ten years hence there would be several multi-billion unicorns who have built their business primarily from the use cases we see today. The most notable achievement would be that unlike the ‘irrational exuberance’ during the dotcom boom in the late 90s, these use cases would generate value employing efficiencies they generate and not just market capitalisation.

For users, Blockchain in some other parlance would be common — hence it would be obvious that passports won’t get ‘forged’. Unsurprisingly, they could get ‘hacked’.

Of course, just like the supersecured crypto exchanges getting hacked and smart contracts getting ‘corrupt’ there is bound to be a learning curve. It is during this learning that the seeds of the next generation of technology are sowed. It was during the steam engine that wheels and rails of steel and alloys came into existence as an upgrade.

From Blockchain financial transactions to smart contract-driven real estate contracts, one thing will not change -- ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


Herat Maniar

The author is Founder-CEO, AudienceBay

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