Blockchain Services in 2017
The rise of the blockchain continues to fascinate and inspire my commercial curiosity. Right now this technology which is being endorsed and supported by many of the world's leading companies gives me the impression of the internet's development in the mid-to-late 1990's. It's an exciting time for innovation and progress of decentralised services that will shape the future digital economies.
In a nutshell, further evolution of the blockchain will lead to the growth of new products and services delivered in a peer-to-peer manner. What's more is the protocol's inherent decentralised network of nodes (i.e. the blocks), which make it almost impossible to hack or subvert as the blockchain is immutable. This means that e-commerce transactions can develop in a manner of greater trust and security that does not exist today given the growing threat of hackers and cyber-attacks.
Although the topic and technology is still in it's infancy, I've compiled a list of interesting consumer-facing services powered by the blockchain which have the potential to deliver on the technologies potential.
Originating in Japan from a creator under the pseudonym "Satoshi Nakamoto", BitCoin has emerged as the world's mainstream crypto-currency. Since its inception it has experienced very large fluctuation in value throughout various global economic cycles and geopolitical events. During Brexit for example, while GBP rapidly devalued, BitCoin saw a massive rise in value. Other sibling crypto-currencies have also evolved to challenge it's place such as Ethereum which is being supported by many financial institutions (including J.P. Morgan)
These currencies are purely virtual, meaning that they have no physical form such as cash in EUR, USD denominations etc. however they can be traded via many of the online exchanges that exist today for traditional currency. Technically, there is a limit to the amount of bitcoin volume that can exist (around 21 million coins) and it's value is rapidly rising, but it's value is potentially unlimited.
Travel & Mobility
Many new methods of improving reach and monetization for product owners and suppliers in the travel industry (e.g. Airlines & Hotels), are emerging which may lead to better overall customer experiences and bringing reduced costs if the efficiencies are passed down to the retail price. A recent Harvard article also highlights the potential impact of blockchain for improving customer loyalty
- Arcade City: While many are still trying to understand the business models and concepts of Uber and Lyft, other startups have emerged to take on the mobility disruptors via blockchain.
- Winding Tree: Startup working on the future of travel via blockchain
Music & Entertainment
Napster's launch in 1999 immediately decreased the music industries revenue. This was quite an unfair proposition for newly emerging creative musicians and artists. New blockchain services will address this market inefficiency by offering control for content distribution and monetisation.
Government & Public Sector
From resident to company registration, both federal and municipal level government is applying blockchain technology to bring efficiencies to bureaucracy.
- Estonia - The small Eastern European country became a leader in digital government with the introduction of it's X-Road platform for residents
- State of Delaware - In the USA, Delaware has introduced company filing via an electronic general ledger format which will greatly improve corporate governance
The decentralised marketplace is now here and fully operational. Such marketplaces have the potential to operate without transaction fees and greatly accelerate peer-2-peer ecommerce transactions. Blockchain technology is also empowering backend process to increase transparency and ownership.
- OpenBazaar: Enables peer to peer commerce
- Chronicled: Enables unique identification of products that supports NFC and QR codes
Overall these services highlight the growing base of emergent blockchain based services being devised by startups globally. Increased growth and adoption of such services will facilitate much more secure and efficient transactions of products and services. It's still early days for the technology of the blockchain but the potential is now real and will provide many exciting commercial opportunities across industry sectors and geographies for years to come.