Blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies are about to go mainstream.
Right now you say? well no.
So how long will it take? Well, your guess is as good as mine and any guess is purely speculative.
What we do see though are significant events that are paving the way for blockchain technology, helping take it mainstream.
Ease of use of the technology of blockchain is a key element that will help with the adoption of blockchain. Adaptation, usability, and utilisation are other elements that will play a pivotal role in how well blockchain and cryptocurrencies do.
However, the recent rise of cryptocurrencies, especially at this accelerated speed does pose a threat for blockchain and the better cryptocurrencies. We have seen the numbers of ICOs increase significantly over a very short period of time. The rise unfortunately is not lead by the adoption of blockchain. Rather it is driven by speculation.
That’s why anyone in the cryptoshphere does believe a bubble is forming, and a very significant one. If the blockchain and cryptoworld continue to follow that of the internet world, and if history does repeat, then we can potentially see the late 90s being repeated here.
“During the period 1997 to 2001, the first speculative investment bubble related to the Internet took place, in which “dot-com” companies (referring to the “.com” top level domain used by businesses) were propelled to exceedingly high valuations as investors rapidly stoked stock values…” – Source
Does this not sound like the crypto world as we see it today? With the rise of ICOs recenlty, one would think so. Most of these new risers are extremely over priced on launch. People throw money at them, without giving it a second thought, and without understanding what value the ICO is really bringing. It’s clearly about speculation right now.
The enthusiasm during the 1997-2001 inevitably lead to a major market crash. Unfortunately, the useless .com domains offered no value to users, consumers, or anyone really.
But good news did exist after all that turmoil. The crash paved a path for a whole new breed of web to form.
The world wide web that started to form used the underlying network to provide real value to users. Communication got easier, and faster, it helped people engage with each other, for business to easily reach out to their customers, and it allowed businesses to work with other business. The internet now offered real solutions to problems that users never new existed before.
Since then the world wide web continued to grow. As it grew, the use-cases for it grew and the underlying technology grew. Over the next decade it had entered almost every household and every business on the planet.
It evolved from being wired, to wireless, then to mobile. And it continues to allow innovation like never seen before.
“The interned now offered real solutions to problems they never new existed before. From there, the world wide web just grew. As the network grew, the use-cases for it grew.”
But what of blockchain? Will it evolve just as internet has?
Personally, no blockchain technology currently offers me any real value. It doesn’t make my life easier or convenient in anyway. Yes, it can help me make money, after all I can trade tokens, speculate, or wait it out till their value grows over time, but what is blockchain technology really doing for me? I hate to say this but so far, nothing.
So why bother then?
Well, so far, the biggest use-cases for blockchain technology are speed, efficiency, and decentralization.
Bitcoin is already a great mechanism through which fund transfers can be authorized and completed within minutes. Since Bitcoin, several other blockchain techs have started to provide even faster transactions. Ripple– although not regarded as fully decentralised, makes full use of blockchain to provide high levels of efficiency and cost reductions for inter-bank fund transfers- solving a major problem for financial institutes across the globe. We can expect to see the same for consumer transfers very soon.
Litecoin another cryptocurrency builds upon the blockchain framework to provide highly efficient transaction speeds, much faster than Bitcoin. While techs like Verge and Monero not only add speed but high levels of privacy to the transactions. As we progress with these techs, they will only get faster from here, while becoming capable of handing an increasing number of transactions per minute that will rival the biggest networks operating today.
Ease of using blockchain technology, cryptocurrency, or blockchain applications will impact the adoption of the tech significantly.
Even the basics of buying and storing your first cryptocurrency is a major hurdle for most people. Getting your first set of Bitcoin, Ethereum, or any other crypto currency for that matter, is a time consuming, hard to understand, or at times a questionable process.
You have to jump through a number of hoops to get your bag of goodies. Not only that, but once you do get some, you have to store the currency yourself somewhere safe. With all the fraud, scams, and trust-less websites, this can be hard to do. Exchanges can’t be relied on heavily and online wallets are still deemed unsafe.
The easier this whole process becomes, the easier the masses will adopt crypto currency. Investing in a cryptocurrency is becoming easier already. It’s a major improvement on the options that we had a year ago. Although they still come with the pain points mentioned above, multiple exchanges do exist across the globe- so converting fiat to crypto is widely available. Sending crypto across the globe is easy too through multiple wallet options, online exchanges, and even crypto transfer services.
We will see digital asset index funds being listed on mainstream exchanges, and available through brokers or banks. We already have digital indexes such as Iconomi‘s BLX who also allow you to create your very own crypto currency portfolio. I’m sure we’ll start to see traditional fund managers give us options to invest into shares that are tied with digital assets very soon.
Further to this, adaptation of block chain technology will become easier too. Technologies such as Ethereum, NEO, Waves, Stratis, and many more allow for the creation and adaptation of blockchain technology. The easily allow developers to create decentralised applications, cryptocurrencies, smart contracts, or tokens.
These platforms are like the first ever HTML editors and Dream weavers of the internet era. They will help build decentralised applications that one day could be used by millions of people all over the globe. Ethereum has a significant backing in the Western world, institutional interest is growing in the technology. NEO has also managed to do well in China and gradually expanding to other countries.
You also have companies like Monaco and TenX that plan on bridging the gap between cryptocurrency and fiat currency, making it easy to use cryptocurrency and other digital assets in every day transactions. Imagine paying with your coffee with you Litecoin or any other crypto of your choosing? that could be a reality very soon.
It doesn’t stop there. I expect to get real value out of blockchain. I also expect to get it in the very near future. But looking beyond the near future companies playing with block chain are also preparing and integrating with other technologies. IOTA will allow blockchain to integrate with ‘internet of things’. Other techs are already preparing for impacts that quantum computing may have on blockchain. Soon we will see blockchain mix with some other very innovative ideas (artificial intelligence) to solve some major problems, not just for consumers, but large businesses also.
The only caveat is, will these companies or techs survive the next few months and years. Yes- they have first mover advantages. Yes- they are attracting early adopters. But will they have what it takes to take a product from scratch and unleash it’s powers to the world? Well we’ll have to wait and see. But one thing is for sure. This is just the very beginning and I can only imagine the possibilities!