Transactions that require trust are the fundamental building block of how we do business online. So it’s no secret that Blockchain is a sleeping dragon of a technology – if you don’t count Bitcoin as the dragon waking up. Personally, I think of Bitcoin as more like the initial warning breath of fire before Blockchain goes Skyrim on your industry.
Large technology companies such as Oracle and IBM are increasingly investing in Blockchain initiatives and developing products that leverage the digital ledger technology. An ecosystem of startups has formed as well. They’re all using Blockchain as a foundation for offerings across any industry vertical you can name.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, a quick primer: Blockchain is a foundation for building out applications that require trusted transactions. It reduces costs by providing transactional trust without having to build out traditional, centralized infrastructure. Blockchain’s birth enabled virtual currencies by changing the way transactions are recorded and confirmed anonymously. It provides a record of events that can be both shared yet secure. Once information is entered, it cannot be altered. Don’t feed the Mogwais after midnight, etc. etc.
One particularly interesting recent use case is IBM looking to Blockchain to help fight Blood Diamonds. Blood Diamonds are horrible and exploitative, in addition to being a movie with a horrible attempt at a south African accent by DiCaprio.
Late last month, IBM announced partnering with four gold and diamond industry companies and an independent laboratory on The TrustChain initiative. The initiative will track the provenance of precious minerals and ensure they’re not of the exploit-y variety.
Big dogs like miner De Beers Group are looking into blockchain-based tracking. Startup Everledger has been tracking diamonds since 2015, tracing provenance of more than 2 million stones. The London Bullion Market Association is looking into using it to trace origins of metals.
Amazon is actively seeking enterprise use cases for Blockchain. Microsoft as well.
Everyone Needs A Blockchain Initiative…
…or a general understanding of how Blockchain will impact your industry, at the very least. Disruption comes when industries with a high barrier to entry are introduced to new technology that couples being economically effective and enterprise-viability. It will also birth new, interesting use cases that think beyond the flow of currency, like with the diamond trade.
The banking and finance world haven’t ignored the potentially disruptive tech. Oracle is working with Banco de Chile to help them log inter-bank transactions via Blockchain, for example.
Unfortunately, there’s still a misconception that Bitcoin and Blockchain’s fate and success are tied. The two were born together so we’re not at that point where we can talk about Blockchain without mentioning Bitcoin.
It means Blockchain occasionally falsely inherits a perception of volatility from Bitcoin (its pricing peaks and valleys are very publicly discussed, though unrelated to Blockchain’s viability). Occasionally, it gets a bad reputation for enabling illicit activity in its beginnings, like the defunct Silk Road.
While it did orginally enable some pretty messed up things, you’d be surprised how many technologies are first adopted for “impropriety”. The adult industry is responsible for advances in video streaming, for example. The bleeding edge always goes through stages of adoption. Use cases in billion dollar industries like gems, initiatives from big tech companies, and an ecosystem of startups emerging, all signal a Blockchain renaissance is coming.