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How fast is this Blockchain thing going to take over?

How fast is this Blockchain thing going to take over?

Well that was fast, rel­a­tive­ly speak­ing, we’re talk­ing about Blockchain of course. Ever since Bit­coin hit the scene a few years ago there has been mas­sive skep­ti­cism and con­cern over the use of cryp­to-cur­ren­cy, pri­mar­i­ly by gov­ern­ments and mul­ti-nation­al busi­ness­es that fear the loss of con­trol to the pub­lic. Of course the Mil­len­ni­al gen­er­a­tion has embraced this new fron­tier fair­ly whole-heart­ed­ly, with 92% of them firm­ly express­ing their dis­trust of banks accord­ing to an ear­ly 2016 white paper pub­lished by Face­book IQ.

While many peo­ple in the gen­er­al pub­lic still don’t real­ly under­stand what Bit­coin or cryp­to-cur­ren­cy is, or the tech­nol­o­gy behind it. But sud­den­ly major cor­po­ra­tions are embrac­ing blockchain tech­nol­o­gy at a record pace, not nec­es­sar­i­ly for cur­ren­cy relat­ed issues but for oth­er appli­ca­tions which can great­ly ben­e­fit from the supe­ri­or track­ing abil­i­ties it enables.

Survey Says

Nor­mal­ly an inter­net-based sur­vey has about as much of a chance at being cred­i­ble as a polling orga­ni­za­tion dur­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion cycle (zing! ouch!). How­ev­er, when that sur­vey is done by Deloitte one tends to give it the ben­e­fit of the doubt to some extent. The sur­vey in ques­tion found that 12% of big busi­ness­es, defined as a busi­ness with at least $500 mil­lion in annu­al rev­enue, have already deployed blockchain projects. Not con­sid­ered them, not look­ing into them, but already deployed them. And that num­ber does­n’t count a large num­ber of oth­ers who said they have plans to do so in the com­ing year.

For what? That’s the ques­tion. The answer, in a nut­shell, is trans­ac­tions. What kind of trans­ac­tions remains to be seen in the big­ger pic­ture, but many of the com­pa­nies sur­veyed rec­og­nized that blockchain tech­nol­o­gy is capa­ble of improv­ing sys­tems oper­a­tions by either reduc­ing costs, increas­ing speed, or both. Just as many under­stand the supe­ri­or secu­ri­ty fea­tures of the tech­nol­o­gy, and about one quar­ter of them see the blockchain as a way to gen­er­ate new busi­ness oppor­tu­ni­ties and cre­ate new rev­enue streams.

Get Your Blockchain Here

So once you under­stand the poten­tial for the tech­nol­o­gy, how do you go about imple­ment­ing it? That’s essen­tial­ly the ques­tion IBM has attempt­ed to answer with their IBM Blockchain, their own ver­sion of the blockchain which they released ear­li­er this year. It’s more than a blockchain though, it’s an ecosys­tem built around a blockchain meant to help oth­er busi­ness­es and indi­vid­u­als devel­op their own blockchain-based busi­ness­es.

From anoth­er per­spec­tive, Over­stock CEO Patrick Byrne might see this tech­nol­o­gy as a way to replace, or at least com­ple­ment, the stock mar­ket and/or the bank­ing sys­tem. This is an area where the push­back is seem­ing­ly insur­mount­able, but Byrne’s just played his first hand by sell­ing 126,000 shares of his com­pa­ny’s stock over the inter­net through the Bit­coin blockchain in what he called a “Sput­nik moment”. In oth­er words, it was large­ly sym­bol­ic but was still a small step in the right direc­tion, accord­ing to him and many oth­ers. The legal­i­ty of the sales made the whole thing much messier than one would expect from a blockchain trans­ac­tion, but it hap­pened nonethe­less. Now, onward to the future.

There are lots of peo­ple who have toyed with seek­ing out a job in cryp­to-cur­ren­cy tech­nol­o­gy in gen­er­al, but have pulled back because of all the stig­mas and the reluc­tance of “major” cor­po­ra­tions or orga­ni­za­tions to embrace it. These are no fringe groups here. It may be time to get on the blockchain train (can I coin that phrase?). It appears to be pulling out of the sta­tion.

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