The excitement surrounding Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies was hard to miss. As the price of these alternative forms of payment rose sharply, dropped back to earth, rose again and then fell back once again, more and more people were paying close attention. And while some had predicted the crash in the cryptocurrency market, few people doubt the transformative power of the blockchain.
The blockchain concept at the heart of the cryptocurrency market it is not going away. Even if Bitcoin and its lesser-known brethren eventually completely crash and burn, the inherent security and transparency of the blockchain will likely change the world in countless ways. Here are five ways blockchain technology will transform the future and impact lives.
Governments around the world are looking for ways to avoid situations like the Russian hacking scandal that plagued the 2016 general election in the US. Many of those government officials are eyeing the blockchain for a more secure and transparent voting standard.
Some people envision the blockchain supplying voters with a secure record of their choices; others see it as a way to make online voting a reality. But no matter how it plays out, blockchain technology is likely to change the way people choose their leaders in the future.
Faster Clearing of Financial Transactions
Delays in the clearing of checks, stock purchases, and other financial transactions cost the industry, as well as consumers, billions of dollars a year. Banks, brokerage firms, and mutual fund companies are always seeking ways to speed up their transactions, and they are increasingly looking to the power of the blockchain.
The banking industry is looking forward to a day when transactions will clear dozens of times faster, thereby reducing costs, eliminating bottlenecks, and making the entire system more secure. Major banks are already experimenting with the blockchain, and interest is only expected to grow.
More Secure Cloud Storage
As cloud storage becomes more secure and more affordable, more companies and individuals are joining in on the revolution. From smartphone owners storing their photos and videos in the cloud to corporations moving their critical files to cloud storage, this trend is already underway.
Even so, traditional cloud storage has some drawbacks, and the blockchain hopes to address those issues. Blockchain technology promises to make cloud storage safer, more secure, and hack-resistant. Those advantages are sure to be attractive for both individual users and corporations.
As the world moves into the future, expect blockchain technology to help create so-called smart contracts. These will run the gamut, from impromptu agreements between individuals to formal agreements between corporations and governments.
The transparency of the blockchain means that all these agreements, from the smallest to the largest, can be searched and enforced, making contracting easier. It also helps to eliminate disagreements between parties and even head off costly lawsuits. The use of smart contracts is one of the most significant potential applications for the blockchain, and there have already been some early successes.
Censorship Free Social Networking
From Twitter and Facebook to YouTube and other video-sharing sites, social media has seen its fair share of scandals. Many of these disagreements have centered on the censorship of so-called hate speech and misinformation, and the users impacted often have nowhere else to go.
Expect the blockchain to facilitate new social media networks that will be resistant to both hacking and censorship attempts. Unlike traditional social media platforms, which are highly centralized and easily controlled, blockchain-based sites will be entirely decentralized and nearly impossible to censor or control.
While cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum get all the attention, it is the blockchain, not new forms of payment, that show real promise. So whether Bitcoin rockets to $1 million a coin or crashes to earth, you can be sure blockchain technology will continue to be in use. The five items outlined above are just the tip of the virtual iceberg.