We live in an ever changing world, and the pace of change is rapidly increasing. Over the past few months the amount of hype around blockchain and cryptocurrencies made nearly everyone talk about it. Governments are starting to accept cryptocurrencies, ICO's are raising unprecedented amounts of capital, people are making and losing millions in seconds.
Many are scared of this new player in the economy, but people were also scared when paper money was first introduced. Believe it or not, but until 1661 there were no banknotes in Europe and just as with cryptocurrency - many predicted that paper money would cause the monetary system of the day to completely collapse, and yet, here we are.
Sure, right now there is a lot of hype and as many experts suggest - we are in a bubble. One begs to ask the question, what will happen if the bubble subsides and real use-cases remain? What would the blockchain future look like?
There are many technologies and applications right now, for which blockchain is not just a mere speculative tool, but a way for us to change industries and practices.
Imagine an office space, where you do not pay rent. Instead, you have once purchased a digital token that gives you lifetime access to thirty offices worldwide, whenever you want? Once you decide that you do not need an office, you simply put the token back onto the market and rent it out, and begin making revenue or if you want to cash out - you sell it with a click of a button. No hassle with contracts, negotiations, money.
That is already a reality coming from an Amsterdam based startup called Primalbase, that is aiming to use blockchain to turn rent in shared workspaces into an investment. They currently have one office location and are planning to expand once they close their ICO funding round.
No, we are not talking about some made-up containers in the cloud. We are talking about real shipping containers that go onto trucks and ships. At the moment - the industry is very fragmented, shipping costs are hard to understand and estimate.
What if a container was smart and had a blockchain contract attached to it with a certain value? For instance a container might "want" to go to Africa from Finland and is willing to spend up to 2500 EUR to do so. Shipping companies could then bid and the container would automatically choose the best route and cost.
This is what the city of Kouvola in Finland is developing, and has received an EU grant for. One day, not only will we have self-driving trucks and ships, but also self-delivering containers and products.
Land Ownership & Governments
It could even go beyond that and change how governments work. Imagine a future where all assets are registered on blockchain and the full history of ownership is known and transparent? That could potentially eliminate fraud, bribery and much more.
Some governments are already implementing that, such as the land registry initiative in Georgia. The goal there is to move all land registrations to bitcoin based blockchain.
On the other hand, some are going for a complete democratization of governments by building whole nations on blockchain. Nations where everything would be transparent and potentially without a government like we know it today. Some already have citizens.
Stock Markets And Investments
Beyond the over-hyped ICO's, there are other ways to use blockchain. For instance the Estonian Funderbeam, that uses private blockchain in order to enable early stage startups raise funding from investors, without having a messy cap table or difficulties with authorities.
They built a system where using blockchain, anyone can invest in the company and get tokens that represent equity in a company. This allows them to create secondary markets where it was not previously possible.
Blockchain Is A Bubble, But That's Good
The main point behind those examples is that blockchain is becoming a technology in its own right. Something independent from the cryptocurrency world that it is so much affiliated to. Sure, it is currently over-hyped, fundings raised through ICO's are most likely unsustainable in the long run, the valuations are through the roof and many of the applications will not work. In the end, we are likely to see yet another bubble.
Yet, it can be argued that this would be a good thing. Regulators would show more interest, real use-cases would stay afloat and show which parts of the technology are viable. In the end, we will be left with all the good parts of the blockchain technology and do away with all the speculation.