For Blockchain, Cryptocurrency is the wrong thing to focus on. Here's why.
When I first caught wind of blockchain/distributed ledger applications, it was all focused on this new game changing digital currency called Bitcoin.
And boy oh boy, Bitcoin really pissed off almost everybody in the banking and financial industries.
Without getting into the specifics of WHY it pissed bankers off, I will say that one of the most unfortunate unintended consequences of applying this technology to finance in its inaugural effort was all of the manufactured stigma it created for the adoption of the technology in other sectors. Why is this so unfortunate, you may ask? Well, I’ll tell you.
Because currency, as we know it, is not likely to be around for very much longer. Rather than transacting in gold and silver, printed dollar bills and cowrie shells, the next generation of humans will be using data. Their own personal data. Because, you see, data is the new currency.
Some of the most encouraging use cases in blockchain application involves demonstrating ownership of, securing, and transacting in personal data. This is huge.
We live in a time where big corporations make their money by collecting and selling our data, often without our knowledge or consent. And, oh yeah. They are not good at keeping our data safe. If you have made it this far into the 21st century without having your identity stolen or your data compromised, you are in the minority.
Challenging the banking industry with the first use case of blockchain/DLT created powerful enemies for the tech. Concentrated and orchestrated attacks in the media (let’s call them “smear campaigns”) routinely rant about how unstable, undependable, and downright dangerous it is. If you turn on any financial news network and tune into any discussion around Bitcoin, several of the talking heads invariably have their brows furrowed as they express their emphatic lack of confidence in the tech.
Because it works. Like, really well.
It stands to reason that the blockchain mechanisms of security, transparency, scalability and proof of unique ownership can be applied to a laundry list of other real-world problems that have nothing to do with currency, but it is certainly useful in the world of personal data. From medical records and personal or professional credentials to property titles and legal documents, blockchain proposes a solution where John Q Public can keep his data safe and secure without the dependence on an intermediary to validate its authenticity.
If there weren’t so much noise in the media around "cryptocurrency this" and "Bitcoin that", other industries that are concerned with data provenance, security and transparency would potentially be more excited about experimenting and developing this new technology. As it stands, my hope is that thought leaders and innovators who deal with data are shrewd enough to cut through the media noise around blockchain as it relates to the finance sector, and work to develop this promising tech in the industries that will be around long after we stop passing arbitrary objects to buy a sandwich and a cup of coffee.