From ‘secure collaboration’ to ‘total trust and transparency’
Predictions for 2017
Trust has always been the central challenge of human collaboration at scale. As trust in governments and corporations decline, people are relying on peer-to-peer (P2P) platforms to hand them better control, secure collaboration and lower prices. While all this is happening, a far deeper revolution has been fermenting. There was an explosion of interest in encrypted digital currency Bitcoin, but it was blockchain, the technology behind the cryptocurrency, that was the real revolution. By creating a secure, decentralised record of transactions, blockchain allows trust between strangers without recourse to any mutually trusted middleman. At its heart, blockchain is about total P2P trust and transparency – it doesn’t require powerful intermediaries to authenticate or to settle transactions.
What happened in 2017?
The rocketing value of cryptocurrency Bitcoin in 2017 brought it and blockchain to the attention of growing numbers of companies and consumers. Business Insider reported that there are over 1,324 globally traded cryptocurrencies, all relying on blockchain. Blockchain has given rise to a revolution in finance – besides bitcoin, money transfer over the internet is now possible without authorisation by banks. Start-ups are exploring blockchain as a tool to fight fake news, for example, Spin uses the general wisdom of its reader community to flag news as appropriate, biased or incomplete. Blockchain still has many issues to iron out in terms building the infrastructure and addressing regulations before it can scale.
In 2018, we believe the blockchain revolution will go mainstream, due in part to a glut in venture capital and the salivation of investors thrilled by the Bitcoin’s wild ride. People will look to brands to harness this technology and to give them greater control, total transparency, and fair prices. This also pushes the power back to the consumers in terms of what data they give up and who can have their data. New blockchain usage will likely include cloud storage, security, property, brokerage, medicine, fashion, media, entertainment, even law. Encryption keys will provide a secure method to track progress of an order, view the history of a case number, the provenance of an item of a clothing or food item, or to unencrypt digital media at a certain rate of quality. We also expect to see applications appear within media and advertising, such as Basic Attention Token, which aims to improve user experience and help ensure publishers and advertisers are not losing out to middlemen, trackers and fraud. While blockchain technology shows tremendous potential to transform a number of areas of our industry, scale will remain an issue until adoption improves, and speeds increase.