6. The Future of Blockchain
Over the last year the world has experienced a massive shift in the perception of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. Governments around the world are exploring the potential impact of blockchain tech, while internet giants such as Facebook and Google are beginning to invest heavily in its potential applications.
Cryptocurrencies have deepened their utility as a viable payment method, while the massive spike in Bitcoin value has catalyzed a media frenzy. We’ll now break down what the future holds for blockchain technology.
Increased Adoption Rates
Demand for high value cryptocurrencies has surged over the last year. There are now more than 250,000 merchants worldwide that accept cryptocurrency as a payment method, a number that is expected to increase with the rapid rise in popularity of the Ripple blockchain-based payment platform.
Financial heavyweight Goldman Sachs has recently weighed in on Bitcoin’s rapidly increasing adoption rates with Zach Pandl, the co-head of foreign exchange and emerging markets strategy, stating that “Cryptocurrencies may offer viable alternatives in countries and corners of the financial system where the traditional services of money are inadequately supplied”.
With mainstream news media following Bitcoin price fluctuations closely, cryptocurrency has never been more visible to the public at large, paving the way for widespread consumer adoption.
Heightened Regulatory Control
Cryptocurrencies have now become too large for regulatory bodies to ignore. Many governments around the world have adopted an assertive stance to the blockchain revolution, while others have welcomed the disruptive technology with open arms.
The growing internet of value is in dire need of sensible regulation, such as the $3 billion ICO market. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has taken a balanced position on the ICO market, while other governments— such as China— have committed to a short-sighted approach in attempting to curtail cryptocurrency trade altogether.
The next year will likely bring a more nuanced perspective to the regulatory table, with most forward-leaning governments assuming a cautious but open-minded perspective on blockchain technology.
In 2017, several countries around the world led the way in exploring the possibility of a government-backed cryptocurrency. Russia, Dubai, and China have all announced the potential of fiat cryptocurrencies, but not all of these propositions are a transparent adoption of the core tenets of blockchain technology.
Venezuela has recently announced the development of an oil-backed cryptocurrency called the Petro, while Israel is currently considering the creation of a Crypto-Shekel in order to reduce Israeli reliance on cash.
Over the next year, expect forays into the blockchain environment by Singapore, South Korea, Japan, Canada, Switzerland, India, and Estonia.
Until recently, Wall Street investors and investment banks have neglected the blockchain ecosystem. With the launch of Bitcoin futures on the Chicago Board Options Exchange and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, however, the growing crypto market has begun to capture the attention of institutional money.
Widespread institutional investment in blockchain networks has only just begun, and is expected to increase dramatically in the near future.
Large-Scale Societal Impact
The future of blockchain technology presents many new use cases, with distributed energy platforms and peer-to-peer energy trading taking the lead in the developmental race. Platforms such as Spectral Energy in The Netherlands and Grid+ in the U.S. are currently leading the way in decentralized sustainable energy.
Marketplaces such as Veridium are now making it possible to trade tokenized carbon credits, assisting enterprises in balancing their carbon footprint through sustainable supply chain management. It could be that that the future killer app of Blockchain technology isn’t currency, but is the protection of the environment we live in.
While blockchain technology may appear complex at first glance, the basic architecture of any blockchain can be understood by keeping the core concepts presented in this guide in mind. As blockchain technology advances, use cases will become more complex, but the core tenets of decentralization, transparency, security, and immutability will remain the same.
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