Cryptocurrency has been around for a while now, but the ‘blockchain revolution’ still hasn’t really happened in the way that many of the experts had predicted.
After more than a decade of hype, there’s still a huge reticence to embrace it. It all sounded great at the outset but has hardly been used, so it’s worth speculating as to whether blockchain is really the ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ for the digital age.
In what’s been a lengthy time frame for the technology, the only real purpose that blockchain appears to have had is powering cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum.
For those unfamiliar with the technology, the blockchain is a ledger, or log, of transactions, and users on the network collaborate to verify new transactions when they occur.
There are certain scenarios where, if the technology were adopted, it could work to the advantage of consumers.
For example, you’re out in town and want to pay for something but find that your card isn’t working because your bank’s systems have gone down. If the shop had access to a blockchain, the transaction could still be processed as the till itself would know if you had the balance in your account. The blockchain, effectively, becomes the ledger of any of the transactions made.
The Windrush generation who have had their legal status questioned because of poor record keeping would’ve benefited hugely from blockchain. Why? Because having a distributed ledger would have ensured that the information was kept safe rather than relying on the government to look after it.
A house sale is, as many of us can attest, one of the most stressful experiences of our lives. A blockchain could be used to track all of the documents, meaning that both buyer and seller, banks and estate agents would all be able to keep an accurate digital record of the sale.
All of these examples are thought-provoking, but one could still legitimately argue against whether blockchain would be necessary. There would be a cost-saving eventually, but the implementation would be costly initially.
The overriding issue, of course, is one of trust.
The notion of corrupt companies or individuals trying to add fraudulent information to a blockchain remains, and it cannot be stopped at this moment in time.
In order for there to be more take up, to take blockchain into the mainstream and for there to be more positivity surrounding its potential benefits, then those issues of trust have to be solved.
If that proves impossible, then blockchain will disappear as quickly as it arrived.