When Bitcoin and the first blockchain was released back in 2009, it gave rise to a plethora of new possibilities. At first, it only represented an alternative means of payment. But with recent developments, more use cases arose. What can we expect for the future of blockchain? Let’s start by comparing the current progress in blockchain with the progress of the internet.
Progress of Internet vs. Progress of Blockchain
You are reading this article thanks to the internet we take for granted today since many of us access it even from our mobile devices and smartphones. To help us see what we can expect in the world of blockchain, let’s list some major milestones of the internet:
1969: Arpanet, the first network to run on packet switching technology.
1971: The first email. Project Gutenberg launches; the birth of eBooks.
1974: The beginning of Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and the Internet Protocol (IP).
1975: The first email client.
1977: PC modem.
1978: Bulletin Board System (BBS).
1984: Domain Name System (DNS).
1988: IRC – Internet Relay Chat.
1989: AOL is launched to make the Internet popular among the average users.
1989: Proposal for the World Wide Web.
1991: The first web page.
1991: The first webcam.
1993: The first graphical web browser for the public.
1996: HoTMaiL (abbreviated from HTML), the first web-based (webmail) service.
1998: Beginning of internet-based file sharing.
2001: Wikipedia launched.
2003: VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol); Skype with a user-friendly interface.
2004: Facebook opens to college students.
2005: YouTube video streaming for the public.
2007: The first TV shows online.
2020: Internet today.
From this brief overview of 51 years from Arpanet of 1969, to the Internet of today in 2020, the progress is really massive. So, let’s just imagine what we can expect in the field of blockchain.
Blockchain From 2008 in a Nutshell
To imagine the future of the blockchain, let’s first have a look at its brief history.
2008: Bitcoin protocol was designed by Satoshi Nakamoto (an individual or a group of people).
2009: Bitcoin network was launched.
2010: Till May 2010, 1 Bitcoin was still less than $0.01.
2011: Litecoin (LTC) was developed and launched on 10/13/2011 to be the „silver“ counterpart to Bitcoin’s „gold.“
2012: The Bitcoin Foundation is founded (09/2012) to advance Bitcoin’s development.
2013: The First Bitcoin ATM is launched, in Vancouver, Canada.
2014: Bitcoin, Litecoin and Ripple (XRP) are the top three coins on the market.
2015: Ethereum goes live on 30/07/2015. It enables Smart Contracts and Decentralized Application (DApps).
2016: The price of BTC reached almost $1,000 ($998 on 01/01/2017).
2017: Bitcoin ATH (all-time-high) price of $19,783.06 was achieved on 12/17/2017.
2020: BTC market cap is around $180 billion (June 2020), with 24 hour volume of $23 billion. There are over 5,400 cryptocurrencies.
At first, the blockchain meant only Bitcoin, payments and digital currencies. These did not provide any ways to automate tasks. But the revolution was underway, opening new possibilities and more advanced technologies.
Smart contracts (coded digital legal documents) introduced a breakthrough concept, making blockchain more useful. Now, the blockchain can also automate contracts and agreements.
Smart contracts are something like coded digital legal documents. The contract or agreement is executed once stipulated conditions are met, without any intermediaries, with low cost, fast speed, transparency and immutability.
One of the most important issues is scalability of blockchain, since the original Bitcoin blockchain processes only around 7 transactions per second (tps), Ethereum blockchain only 15 tps, while Mastercard can process 65,000 transactions per second. There are quite a few solutions to the scalability of blockchain, for example, sharding and lightning network, which can allow 100,000 and more transactions per second, with very low fees.
In 2020, blockchain and cryptocurrencies are being used by more and more people every day. Of course, none of this would be possible without the development of the internet in the years prior. Since 2008, in just 12 years, the blockchain has been attracting more and more adherents, fans and users. And rightly so. What can we expect in the near future?
The Uses and Possibilities of Blockchain
Blockchain and Smart Contracts
Any system with clear rules can benefit from smart contracts, since smart contracts bring in many benefits: accuracy, transparency, clear communication, speed, security, efficiency, reliable storage and backup, savings (in costs and paper-free processes), trust, guaranteed outcomes.
As a result, fewer and fewer lawyers, attorneys and notaries will be needed for contracts and other legal functions, since all this is done much better, faster and cheaper through blockchain.
Also, processes can be automatically executed once conditions are met. For example, after payment, goods are automatically delivered.
Blockchain and Payments
Blockchain payments are faster and cheaper than traditional international payments methods. In some cases, money remittance might cost as much as 20%, whereas blockchain lowers this cost to just a fraction. On top of that, you have the benefit of much faster and transparent processing.
Blockchain and Identity Security
Identity security has been an issue of the internet for many years. Securing private information and maintaining your online identity intact is extremely important. Finally, blockchain brings in the needed security, together with verification processes applicable in all kinds of fields, including voting and electoral processes, and protections of records of real estate, ownership titles, etc.
Blockchain and Supply Chain
An efficient supply chain is a must for many businesses. Blockchain is extremely fitting to be used in industries, supply chains and systems, eliminating human work prone to error and guaranteeing the utmost efficiency. Blockchain can also solve many issues inherent in today’s supply chains.
Some examples are fake medical and pharmaceutical supplies, counterfeit car parts (e.g. brake discs) and counterfeit electronic devices and equipment (e.g. fake measuring equipment that doesn’t work as advertised). All these counterfeit and fake items can also be dangerous to one’s health.
With other counterfeit devices, such as earphones and earplugs, or fashion items and fake brand name goods, you pay for and expect a quality that you never get. Blockchain can sort this out with transparency.
Blockchain in Cosmetics and Food Safety
Blockchain can bring in notable improvements into the fields of cosmetics and food safety. Barcodes and QR codes can be used together with blockchain to show transparently what inputs were used during the production process. Detailed information and tracking can be available anytime about transporting, storekeeping, etc. This all adds to the quality and transparency of the process.
Blockchain and Health Care
Blockchain helps in digitizing patient profiles, removing errors inherent in paper documentation. Health records on blockchain are reliable and always available. In the same way, blockchain improves drug traceability, ensuring that no fake medicine reaches the patient. The other fundamental improvements include patient consent management, and data security in clinical tests.
Blockchain and Finance
Financial transactions are efficient, transparent, programmable and streamlined thanks to the use of smart contracts and blockchain platforms such as Ethereum. Automatic and conditional payments can be done easily; some examples are commissions, dividends and waterfalls. Authenticity of data can be preserved, as well.
Blockchain and Real Estate
Blockchain improves the field of the real estate market in a massive way. It makes titles and ownership transparent; it helps in reducing costs. Thanks to tokenization, fractional ownership can be achieved quite easily. Payments can be settled in real time, with transparency and immediate data accessibility.
Blockchain and the Gaming Industry
Dedicated digital currencies and tokens have been used in the gaming industry for many years. Thus, cryptocurrencies and blockchain is just another step in a present concept. Video games and esports naturally attract people more technically savvy, thus ready to use new approaches, including payments with cryptocurrencies and other transactions over the blockchain. Cryptocurrencies can be extremely fitting for micro-transactions, for example, when buying new features of a game or tickets to esports events. Blockchain can also help track the progress during a game or help in cooperation in multiplayer systems.
Blockchain in Artificial Intelligence and Internet-of-Things
Blockchain can be helpful almost anywhere, including internet-of-things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI). It makes sense to utilize blockchain in smart devices, smart household appliances, smart cars, trucks and vehicles. Artificial intelligence and IoT, together with blockchain, can be extremely helpful in industrial use, agriculture and farming. Blockchain use-cases are ample and probably endless.
Blockchain and New Opportunities for Work
Blockchain technology is young and new, thus the number of knowledgeable users and skilled experts is quite limited. At this time, using blockchain and cryptocurrencies comes with some learning. But the reward can be very motivating. Blockchain-savvy people will be in high demand. So, it might make sense to start using blockchain and cryptocurrencies and learn as much as you can.
The Interesting Future of Blockchain
Blockchain is way more than Bitcoin, cryptocurrencies and payments. It can be useful in practically any field, with new and new use-cases appearing all the time. The examples above are by no means exhaustive, since many other businesses can profit from blockchain in their processes, and blockchain can be used in ever more operations. Thus, the future of the blockchain definitely looks interesting and promising.