Whether you like it, understand it or trust it, blockchain technology already has laid the blueprint for a new economy.
And that’s just the beginning.
Over the next decade, it will alter how you vote, protect personal data, make healthcare decisions, manage investments, make purchases large and small, operate your business and even help decide if food is fresh and where it comes from.
The first blockchain was designed as a platform for Bitcoin. The technology has since been the engine of dozens of “me-too” cryptocurrencies that fuel digital money’s current frenzy. Still, cryptocurrencies are the start, not the peak, of blockchain technology’s value.
- Mark Zuckerberg is mulling a blockchain’s potential to shut trolls and bots out of Facebook.
- Healthcare companies are looking at blockchains to ensure the security of personal information.
- Amazon’s Web Services program for the Cloud, Microsoft’s Azure for the Cloud, and young companies such as Factom and Bitfury offer blockchains to ensure the integrity of everything from loan documentation to your vote.
- Wien Energie, an Austrian energy provider, uses the technology to trade electricity among utilities.
- Estonia used blockchains to store, secure and transact health records.
- A growing number of solar and new-energy power companies use the technology to buy energy.
Foxconn, the Chinese giant that assembles Apple’s and other companies’ electronic items, has been testing a family of blockchains to manage the flow of materials, products and payments along its supply and delivery paths. It’s not just about security, but also about speeding payments and avoiding middlemen and their fees.
A DECENTRALIZED FUTURE
Blockchains have moved well beyond registering and trading digital coins. The technology eliminates the need for third-party guarantors, such as banks or auditors, to ensure the integrity of transactions’ records. And that means virtually any type of transaction that requires a record, from filing a loan application to casting a vote, can be secured in a Bitcoin blockchain.
Secure records are the stuff of government as well as business. Sweden is testing a blockchain-based land registry. Dubai wants to use blockchains to power its entire government by 2020. Blockchains are proving to be particularly popular in former Soviet-bloc countries, where decades of Soviet domination cost millions their property and bred distrust of government. Bitfury is helping the Republic of Georgia move its property records to a blockchain.
These are blockchains’ low-hanging fruit. The technology’s true transformation of how we acquire, transact and store information is only beginning to reveal itself.
Indeed, the Trends Research Institute identified Blockchain Democracy as one of our Top Trends for 2018. This game-changing technology will transform the foundation of democracies worldwide.
We forecast it in December 2017: As dissatisfaction with political institutions worldwide accelerates, Direct Democracy will gain momentum in 2018 as Blockchain Democracy becomes a global standard.
TRENDPOST: Blockchain technology is embraced by the biggest banks and financial institutions, insurance giants, major industries and an increasing number of governments worldwide. They trust blockchains because the technology encrypts data, preventing the record of transactions from being hacked or altered. And more and more social, business, academic and industrial sectors are realizing how secure and adaptable the technology is, and will be.