Though it may seem like a story already beaten to death, the rise of cryptocurrency continues unabated, with long-term, innovative coins in the space finally being rewarded with the massive influx of Wall Street-sized money. It’s not only Wall Street that is contributing to the rocketing rise of blockchain-backed projects, countries with sizable crypto-conscious populations like China, Japan and South Korea are starting to surpass exchanges based in the U.S. – traditionally among the biggest in the world – proving that the appeal of bitcoin and the genius of its underlying design is a global phenomenon, not likely to be stopped or even deterred by government regulation. On the contrary, the eventual embrace of the blockchain by central and local governments around the world is all but inevitable, suggesting a furtherance of this unprecedented technological revolution.
China Embraces Ethereum
Huobi, one of the biggest of the very big Chinese BTC markets, recently announced plans to add Ethereum as a trading pair for CNY. This move follows in the footsteps of some major American exchanges like Coinbase and Kraken, but is not expected to be copied by other Chinese mega-exchanges. In Korea, where cryptocurrency is becoming a part of everyday life, the powerhouse exchange Bithumb already conducts over $100 million a day in Ethereum trades, overshadowing the volume of U.S.-based Poloniex Ethereum trades by about 25%, and reflecting the growing international trend of confidence in cryptocurrency and blockchain-based technologies.
Crypto-knowledge required for investors
The continued rise of the price of bitcoin and ether is drawing the attention of major media outlets, like CNBC, and even though a price correction could be in the works, the global rise of blockchain technology is not without good reason. In addition to acting as a currency, the blockchain can solve many complex problems that aren’t necessarily financial in nature. For instance, just last week Toyota announced plans to employ a blockchain system to hasten the development of their driverless car program. Also last week, Forbes magazine published an article citing a poll which found that up to 33% of business executives would consider using blockchain technology to improve their work processes. Let’s review some of the blockchain’s basic uses that are being applied to an ever-growing list of industries:
- Increase in transparency
Transparency in use of the blockchain can best be summed by the following definition: “Transparency of the data stored and the update process of the blockchain’s state is a necessity for public verifiability. The magnitude of transparent information available to a given observer, however, can vary, and not every user has to have access to every available piece of information.” This means that even though a public ledger is always available for all to see, the information contained in the ledger is incorruptible, “set in stone,” and with the proper tools can be analyzed in an infinite number of ways. This makes fraud harder to commit, depending on the amount of information available to each platform user. A use case scenario of this feature is the launch of a company that hopes to make loan issuance easier and more readily available via the use of the blockchain’s technology. In the article mentioned above, Toyota states that they hope to “increase transparency to reduce fraud” via an accurate and digitized system of accident and insurance information to be stored in their version of the blockchain.
- Accurate tracking
The confirmation system employed by bitcoin in the process of transaction verification is nearly flawless, in principle. Though double-spend events and transaction forgotten by the bitcoin network remain a problem, bitcoin’s ability to accurately record and transact correctly on the basis of that record is a revolutionary and largely unparalleled concept. This core feature is also attracting large-scale feature looking to employ tracking solutions. As an example, a Texas real estate developer is launching a token-based blockchain system that will serve to not only raise funds for the construction of 2,385 homes but also act as a record-keeping method for materials delivery and construction progress tracking. A number of environmentally-conscious companies and organizations are also considering the use of the blockchain to insure the accurate delivery of organic resources, in hopes of cutting fraud and waste in the transportation of materials.
- Permanent ledger
Satoshi Nakamoto’s original concept of the “immutable, shared ledger” has even sparked interest in the leaders of world organizations who see the potential application of a decentralized record-keeping system to the functions of the U.N., citing the blockchain’s durability as the reason for it to lead to “fewer internal disputes and more efficient allocation of resources.” Because cloud computing technology has advanced to the point where limits on data backups and storage is no longer an issue, the concept of permanence and durability of a blockchain-based system is becoming more and more of a reality. This makes the idea of trusting the identity of an individual – their credentials stored in an encrypted but verifiable manner to those authorized – a reality. This could potentially be helpful not only in government registration services but healthcare services as well, as a blockchain could keep track of patient medication, diagnosis, doctor visit and hospital visit history, as well as patient-specific variables like blood type and allergies. The permanency and instant accessibility to such information has the potential to save not only money but lives and medical resources as well.
- Cost reduction
In addition to increasing the security, speed and dependability of transactions in general, major corporations like Oracle have begun to explore the idea of using the blockchain to make “data transfer simpler and easier between entities.” The removal of the “middleman” in the transaction and storage of data, while simultaneously adding to security measures, is a feature that cannot be overlooked by companies looking to save money. While the blockchain’s initial use was famously as a currency, it is now being applied in the reduction of costs for a variety of public and private functions, including record-keeping services and advanced security for healthcare systems, energy grids and even the internet itself.