Over the past few years, the blockchain has been receiving a whole lot of buzz. Just yesterday, the technology was on the verge of disrupting everything from banking to supply chains, as well as solving transparency issues and serving unbanked populations.
And then came the ICO explosion and the ridiculous coins that came with them. Every company wanted to ICO, but that turned out to be a poor strategy for long-term growth.
Excitement turned to hype, and now, this great vision for the future seems to have fewer cheerleaders.
As Axios reports, the blockchain buzz has largely turned out to be well, buzz.
So, post-crypto fever dream, what’s next for the chain? Here’s what experts are saying.
What is the future of blockchain?
Some say it’s just baby technology — it’ll grow up
Blockchain expert and co-author of the book, “The Blockchain Revolution: How The Technology Behind Bitcoin is Changing Money,” Don Tapscott says the community is still in early days. Tapscott believes that the technology can change our world down the road, but we’re not quite there yet.
Eventually, with greater understanding of how the technology works and clear-cut regulations governing its use, we may see a shift. But for now, not enough people actually “get” how it works or how to regulate the technology.
This piece in the Harvard Business Review brings up a similar sentiment — stating that in order for blockchain to change the world, the world needs to change first.
However, as it stands, we don’t have the framework to support the infrastructure needed to bring the decentralized platform into the mainstream.
Blockchain is an expensive, complex project that must be carried out on a global scale. As it stands, the companies leading the blockchain charge are facing something of an energy crisis.
So, it’s no surprise that some changes need to take place before it becomes a reality for regular folks.
We’ve also hinged a lot of hopes and dreams on the blockchain
Controversial Bitcoin developer Jimmy Song says we’ve been holding up blockchain as this beacon of hope. And wrongly so.
Song’s beef with blockchain stems from the idea that the technology has been touted as the answer to all of our technological problems, where in many cases, those problems may well be better addressed with a different approach.
Martha Bennett, an analyst at Forrester, echoes a similar sentiment. Bennett says there’s a real risk that we’ll experience a “blockchain winter,” in the absence of “miracles” and tech-related investments will start to dry up.
And, yeah. We get it.
Some of blockchain’s most vocal proponents have thrown around claims that the technology can fix everything from inequality to inefficiencies.
According to Marie Wieck, general manager for blockchain at IBM, blockchain is as “transformative” as the internet was for communication. And while IBM has been one of the loudest voices pushing this message of change, they’ve put the technology to work in a number of practical applications. However, IBM actually is leveraging the technology in a way that helps businesses like Maersk and Walmart gain more insights into their supply chains.
The idea of “no middleman” can get complicated
The absence of the middleman is the main selling point, as transactions have the potential to be done faster and cheaper than ever.
But when the record-keeper of highly sensitive data and large sums of digital cash is no one, there leaves the question of — should there be a caretaker? While adding a caretaker kind of defeats the purpose, existing blockchain users sometimes have trouble accessing permissions.
Blockchain technology has only been around for about a decade. As such, there are many vulnerabilities that we don’t yet understand.
Ultimately, the blockchain likely isn’t going away anytime soon. We’ll be interested in seeing how it evolves, and what innovations will have a lasting impact after the novelty coins go away and talk of change begins to shift into something more practical.
For now, it’s safe to say, most of us won’t be using blockchain to its fullest potential for a long time. However, let’s hope that blockchain winter isn’t on the horizon and innovators stay in the game.