The immutable nature of blockchain technology, along with its ability to maintain an ever-growing historical record of information at a massive scale, has led to a heightened adoption and the topic grabbing headlines throughout 2017. Clearly, upcoming and well-established companies are finally coming to terms with how the blockchain can revolutionize every aspect of their workflow, from analytics to the supply chain.
Companies interested in picking up the technology are also becoming increasingly aware of the fact that blockchain usage can be achieved without also embracing the risks and uncertainties of the cryptocurrency market. The method of tokenization that bitcoin and similar digital currencies have employed can also be applied by any business for traditional fiat currency, making blockchain technology just a highly efficient distributed database. Such an execution would represent the best of both worlds for interested adopters.
To most people unfamiliar with the technology, a blockchain is virtually indistinguishable from bitcoin itself, primarily because it was the first large-scale implementation of the concept. With the rise of several other digital currencies and companies that have highlighted the application of blockchains though, the world at large is finally making the distinction between the two and recognizing the true potential that the technology has to offer.
New industries are showing a keen interest in the integration of blockchains into their workflow. According to IBM, travel (for loyalty programs), government (voting, land registration), anti-counterfeiting (rights management) are all industries that stand to benefit from the technology massively in the near future.
The blockchain paradigm shift may come as a result of rapid growth of other digital currencies. After all, it is possible that bitcoin will not indefinitely reign supreme as the king of cryptocurrencies, consequently conceding its position to, for instance, Ethereum or Litecoin. This is especially true since bitcoin has, historically and today, promised a narrower range of benefits as compared to ether, the basis of several blockchain applications that use the Ethereum blockchain. Cosmos and Aion are just two of the several such projects designed to solve the problem of scalability.
Governments of major economies are finally introducing cryptocurrency legislation, taking away the shroud of mystery that has surrounded both digital currencies and the underlying blockchain technology. Central banks are also noticing the advantages that the technology has to offer and attempting to reconcile the notion of traditional banking infrastructure with blockchains.
In a lot of ways, the meteoric growth of blockchain technology is quite similar to that of the internet in the 1990’s. Even though very few people fully grasp the technology and its implications, the full extent of its impact is immediately apparent. Similarly, the blockchain ecosystem is still in its early days, relatively speaking. It took several iterations, failed endeavors and the infamous Dotcom bubble to bring the internet past its infancy. For any new technology of this scale and magnitude, such a growth cycle is imminent. The years to come, therefore, will represent the true test for blockchain applications and help separate the wheat from the chaff.