With the advent of Blockchain technology and its potential to disrupt the way the world has been doing business for many centuries, there is an intense amount of gossip and buzz and an ocean of online literature on the topic. The blockchain revolution is considered analogous to the internet revolution in 1994 but at the same time a diverse and a large population in the developed and developing world, alike, do not even know if there is something called Blockchain, let alone what it really is or going to be, with its current pace of evolution.
In fact, for many people, it does not matter what it is called or does. What matters is how this technology can contribute towards the good of people’s daily lives, and what better way of doing so than seeing that through the lens of the Sustainable Development Goals?
With a closer look, one finds that Blockchain, viewed as new technology is a name given to an innovative combination of time-tested technologies like distributed computing, cryptography, Internet connectivity and TCP/IP, and mathematical algorithms backed by decades of research. Through this technology, the experts have come up with a sophisticated ledger system that is known as the Distributed Ledger System.
Blockchain technology matters as it brings trust to be able to transact any business with parties across the world seamlessly with lower costs. At the same time, ensure information security and protect against growing issues related to data privacy. Besides providing opportunities for people to interact directly, rights reserved, through its peer-to-peer network, it opens possibilities to shred unwanted dependencies through its design that cuts through third-party requirements of many business models that we depend on today. All this, with the possibility of being able to track all transactions with transparency and assurance of immutability of the data stored as a result of a consensus of the participating parties, based on predefined rules.
Inspired by the opportunities of this technology, new business models of decentralization are being implemented using computer coded self-executing contracts (Smart Contracts) and Tokens (representing value such as a Bitcoin), incentivizing participation to sustain those models.
With the starting of Bitcoin in 2009 that opened a way to transfer value through the internet, new Blockchain projects are being announced almost every day. There are predictions that this technology has the potential to shift the balance of power away from centralized authorities in the field of communications, business, and even politics or law. While some Blockchain talks maybe just hyped at this point, it is possible that, in the coming years, a significant number of global economic infrastructure will be using Blockchain technology.
Many Blockchain-based use cases that can directly contribute to the benefit of the daily life of people worldwide are at ideation, prototyping, pilot and even in production for several years. Such use cases are in the areas of law, finance, education, government, agricultural, energy, health and many other sectors of commercial and non-commercial activities. While there are success stories of the Blockchain technologies, it seems far from being perfect and not “a solution to everything”.
With continued research efforts fed by the experience of expanded use and lessons learned Blockchain can potentially find its rightful place in our day-to-day activities for good and influence the social and political fabric of our societies. We need to know well its limits and apply it to the right use cases with regulatory compliance and adequately architected Blockchains.