Common complaints among blockchain newcomers derive from a failure to understand whether it’s a “stock,” an asset, a technology, or what?
The answer, of course, is all of the above. When one’s under-educated cousin informs say the “the Bitcoin stock” rebounded some, he’s not entirely wrong.
A lot of Bitcoin is held in the same manner as stock — in trust.
The matter of trust is the first we should address in listing blockchain’s crucial advantages in business, blockchain cuts to the heart of the matter: everybody can be equally paranoid, and equally equipped to detect fraud, as a result of public-private key cryptography.
Blockchain In The Membrane
That’s the blockchain value proposition, at least.
The reality is vastly more complex. Dozens upon dozens of interconnected rabbit holes (“altcoins” and “tokens”). Fragmented markets. Clearly fraudulent exchange data. Lack of regulatory greenlight — in some cases, crypto is essentially a “gray market.”
Everipedia defines a gray market as:
“[…] [T]he trade of a commodity through distribution channels that are legal but unintended by the original manufacturer. Grey market products are products sold by a manufacturer or their authorized agent outside the terms of the agreement between the reseller and the manufacturer.”
Gray markets don’t sound so bad, until you consider how vulnerable to adverse oversight they are.
So, what can blockchain do for industries?
One – Industries Relying on Authenticity
In China, counterfeit goods are a regular occurrence, to the point that middle class Chinese are willing to pay sometimes exorbitant prices to import foods.
A company called Techrock has an exclusive deal with Rakuten. It uses the blockchain to enable the customer to both get rewarded for buying authentic goods and find useful information about their products. Reportedly, there is strong demand for authentic Japanese goods in China, giving room for huge profits to quality importers.
The company touts its tamper-resistant labeling system as being obviously superior to the risks of the exterior market.
It’s not hard to understand: with blockchain, records can’t just be falsified; therefore, a counterfeit product will have to lack the blockchain verification label.
Likewise, William Shatner’s latest enterprise verifies the authenticity of collectibles.
The possibilities in this department are endless, from technology to dating profile pictures.
Two – Social Media
It’s no surprise that Facebook has gone all in on blockchain, not really.
It’s one of the many things they will need to do if they’re going to survive in a blockchain world.
There are a number of blockchain social media platforms budding at this point.
Some, like Minds.com, are incentivized with exposure. Others, like Cent.co or Honest.cash use crypto directly to incentivize participation.
The next wave of the Internet, where everyone pays with cryptographically secure apps and plugins, is still a chaotic gold rush of efforts. However, as things collate in response to market conditions, a number of increasingly unified offerings will rise to the top.
For example, look at the popularity of Scatter, which supports multiple blockchains. On the wallet side, look at the popularity of master wallets like Coinomi or Edge.
The bottom line is that people still aren’t sure what the crypto future actually looks like. Note: the author does not expect saying so to quell the ever-raging debates about the proper use of open source protocols in cryptocurrency.
Three – Intellectual Property
The tech-oriented reader is well aware: there’s virtually nothing important outside of intellectual property anymore.
Apple is one of the wealthiest companies in history. A significant portion of its revenues relate to selling other people’s intellectual property for 30% off the top.
If you create it, someone will try to steal it. The battle against piracy was lost long ago, but streaming services have found a way to compensate both sides of the war.
Most former pirates consider the cost of one album per month for something like Spotify is a fair price for the amount of content you get access to.
At the same time, you lose ownership, trading it in for a lease.
Blockchain can change this, and give people “ownership” in the form of transferrable, semipermanent leases.
Blockchain can also compete with firms like Spotify. Have you heard of Choon.co?
The Arc of History Bends Bullish
At this point in the game, you could select any three industries and identify ways that blockchain could or should impact them.
Nonetheless, real-world solutions are what will build real-world adoption, and thus, like most technology, we should expect that the American middle-class (and, by extension, the rest of the world) will first encounter blockchain at work.
Whatever the case, the notion that a permanent, speculative token market is either healthy or likely is laughable. Eventually, solutions will have to come from all the money being thrown around, and at least a few of them will have to convert the masses in ways that $20,000 BTC couldn’t.