Blockchain was one regularly appearing in major headlines around the world, but over the past few months the technology has seen a serious decline in the amount of media buzz surrounding it. Decentralized ledger technology has long been harkened as a revolutionary asset that will change the business world and our personal lives alike, but some critics are now contending that blockchain was just a trendy innovation that’s already fading into insignificance.
Blockchain may no longer be in the center of the media spotlight, but it would be foolish to count the technology entirely out. Here’s why blockchain’s time is yet to come, and why it will grow in importance as time goes on.
The technology and its proponents are still maturing
It’s easy to dismiss blockchain proposals as pie-in-the-sky fantasies, but what few critics realize is that we’re only just beginning to learn about the myriad ways that blockchain services can revolutionize our lives. The technology itself and its chief proponents are still maturing and will need time to develop their sea legs before they’re ready for the widespread adoption of blockchain services. Regulations for the technology were initially shunned, for instance, but it’s now growing clear that more carefully delineated standards for blockchain governance are necessary if the tech is ever to become mainstream.
Many contemporary blockchain laws are hasty and ill-fitting, for example, demonstrating that legislators will need to re-approach the technology with a better understanding of it if they’re to incorporate blockchain into the modern economy. In many instances, lobbyists who may not have the best intentions in mind for blockchain’s future have often been involved in the creation of regulations governing it. Mainstream financial actors who feel threatened by decentralized digital ledgers have also taken steps to tarnish blockchain’s name in the public eye, though its proponents have done an excellent job fighting against this smear campaign.
Critics and fans of the technology will debate whether blockchain is still relevant until the end of time. What really matters is what consumers and investors think. Thus far, most people have heard of blockchain but probably have little to no understanding of how it really works. This is fairly standard – few, if any, technological marvels are truly well-understood by a majority of the everyday populace. What matters is if those developing blockchain technology and forming blockchain-based companies can prove to customers that their lives will be substantially improved if they embrace the blockchain revolution.
Thus far, there appears to be little luck on that front, which is one of the primary reasons we should expect blockchain services to keep stumbling for another few years before truly taking off.
The challenges of scaling blockchain
It won’t matter if some consumers are impressed by blockchain if its proponents are incapable of scaling up their services to a point where they can handle a mass audience. Blockchain’s enduring scaling problem has been another one of the chief hurdles in its pathway towards mainstream acceptance. When it comes to conquering the international marketplace, in particular, blockchain services will need to prove to foreign investors that they can scale up their operations if they receive the initial funding they often desperately need.
It’s also worthwhile to ask if the public’s attention can help or hinder blockchain’s continued development. Now that relatively fewer people are hearing about blockchain than just a few months ago, it stands to reason that investor buzz surrounding the technology could slowly but surely fade away. Nevertheless, the lack of public interest in budding technologies doesn’t always guarantee a lack of financial opportunities; many budding medical treatments, for instance, are totally unknown to the public but still receive millions in funding by specialist investors who know which horse to back if they want a return on their investments.
Blockchain won’t be scalable and investors won’t want to go near it with earnestness until its liability problems are solved, too, so don’t think the technology has an incredibly easy way forward. Right now, the decentralized nature of blockchain technology is what makes it so attractive to people in the first place, but the lack of a central governing authority for blockchain services could generate a plethora of questions surrounding liability. If a business relies on a blockchain service that fails to follow through on its promises, for instance, how can they be assured that their detractors will be held accountable to the rule of law? Similarly to the cryptocurrencies which they enable, blockchain service providers will need to navigate dicey (and pricey) questions of liability in the near future if they want it to endure for long.
Businesses will provide blockchain’s future
Many technological marvels aren’t pioneered by an existing industry but rather came about because a handful of commited innovators willed them into existence. When it comes to blockchain, however, businesses will continuously provide for the technology’s future. As a recent blockchain survey conducted by Deloitte points out, for instance, a shared recognition that blockchain is real has been sweeping across the business sector at every level. Executives and interns alike are abuzz with chatter about this technology, even when mainstream media headlines abandon it, and we can expect them to propel it forward for the foreseeable future.
These businesses that embrace blockchain will play a major role in forming the regulatory environment that future blockchain entrepreneurs will be forced to navigate as they attempt to establish commercial empires for themselves. Perhaps that’s why it’s so crucial that those who are a part of the private sector deeply familiarize themselves with the ins and outs of decentralized ledgers, as failing to do so could be dooming their future commercial pursuits. Tech experts will need to be willing to provide assistance along the way, however, as commercial interest alone can never truly determine how and why the new technology is being developed.
Transparency is key to blockchain's future
Of all the previously discussed reasons why blockchain’s time is yet to come, few of them hold a candle to the fact that transparency is the future of our political economy, and blockchain services can provide see-through transparency like no other. Blockchain payments are easily auditable and trackable, but users can retain their pseudo-anonymity that so many of them love and cherish. Identification framework may become more necessary as time goes on, especially if the modern financial system continues to reject blockchain services, so proponents will have to argue amongst themselves as to how to best go about establishing such an ID system without trashing blockchain’s covertness.
Attempting to navigate the dizzying intersection of transparency, anonymity and identity won’t be easy, which is why we can expect blockchain services to take a few more years before they truly come into their own. It would be foolish to argue that blockchain is incapable of change, however; technological evolution is the historical norm, and those who stand to reap huge fortunes from the proliferation of blockchain tech will ensure that it becomes suitable for mainstream use sooner rather than later. Nevertheless, those who are expecting blockchain to immediately blossom should understand that some important barriers must first be surpassed. All in all, blockchain’s time is yet to come, but we shouldn’t count the impressive technology out just yet.