In a world where crypto market values are seen as the most important headline, it is perhaps worth giving the real star of the show, blockchain technology, the consideration it deserves.
These days the general public’s perception of cryptocurrencies is expanding daily as its reputation for being a rollercoaster of financial uncertainty and possibility is becoming increasingly evident. While it has been exhilarating just to watch as its value and prices careen up and down wildly in an unpredictable fashion, now is the time for a broader look at the implications of what a future based in cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology looks like and see the real potential of what we are witnessing.
Showcasing just how unpredictable the value of cryptocurrencies can be this week, Coinbase was given perhaps its biggest bolster toward legitimacy when the Financial Conduct Authority in the United Kingdom granted it an e/money licence in the U.K. This move is allowing those who wish to invest fiat currency, like Sterling or Euro, into their account and to have it be divided into a separate account from crypto coins and will not be absorbed by the company in the event of liquidation. This kind of cooperation and collaboration with financial regulating authorities has allowed Coinbase to extend their license to 23 other European Union countries. However, despite the guarantees of fiat currency being protected, no such guarantee exists for any crypto coins.
In the same week that the European market seems to be cautiously embracing the potential of cryptocurrencies, the U.S. market has been far more cynical in its approach. On the same day that Coinbase was granted an e/money license Bitcoin prices plummet by a staggering 10.8% in just a matter of minutes, leading some observers to believe this may have been the result of hacking on the Binanace platform. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission issued a warning on cryptocurrency exchanges in which the SEC warns potential investors that many exchanges are currently unregulated and can do whatever they want with your money and as an investor to be extremely cautious.
The voices of those fervently decrying the dangers of cryptocurrencies have just gotten a lot louder, as many high profile companies join in on their side in recent months.
In January, Facebook became the first service to openly target all things crypto related when the social media giant banned all advertising of any cryptocurrencies and related products after an update to its advertising policy. This change to the advertising policy resulted in an astounding 12% drop in value for Bitcoin in one day. Twitter is not far behind Facebook as they are currently in the process of restricting solicitations for cryptocurrencies or any other “get rich quick” schemes but has yet to completely amend their advertising policy to explicitly target cryptocurrencies.
Perhaps the biggest blow to cryptocurrencies legitimacy comes as Google announced that it is planning on banning all advertising related to cryptocurrencies as part of its new advertising guidelines. Despite the fact that this ban does not come into effect until June it resulted in a brutal 9% drop in Bitcoins value. Bitcoin is not the only cryptocurrency whose prices dropped as a result of the Google announcement as Ethereum and Ripple also suffered substantial drops in their value following the announcement of between 8.5% and 9 %. If the barriers to cryptocurrencies legitimacy are mostly based on the lack of regulation that has helped push prices onto the hectic rollercoaster that seems to be nowhere near completion.
If trading in the currency is something that seems to be too much of a financial risk to entertain, it seems that cryptocurrencies backbone, blockchain technology, is where the real potential is currently resting.
Last month, half a dozen ICO companies collaborated on a new fund of more than $100 million to promising projects in the Ethereum crypto space using blockchain technology. In Korea, the biggest messenger service in the country, Kakao, has recently announced they intend to launch a blockchain-focused business unit. Telegram recently raised a cool $850 million in ICO funds for their Telegram Open Network who plan to use this to fund services for decentralized apps, smart contracts, and decentralized web browsing experiences.
Blockchain development has perhaps had one of its most intriguing applications used this week, perhaps in a way that truly showcases its practical potential beyond currency and financial profit. In Sierra Leone this week just ran its elections based on blockchain technology, a world first. Over 70% of voters used the technology to cast their vote.
The ultimate goal of this tech is to reduce costs and also to reduce corruption.
As the future seems to have digital voting as an almost certainty in the next decade, blockchain technology seems to be the tool that will provide the legitimacy that digitized voting methods previously lacked such as previous concerns with safety and transparency.
Blockchain technology is also being considered as the tool to revolutionize the freight and trucking industry, as it could help streamline a massively inefficient process with massive savings potential. So much so, the Blockchain in Transport Alliance or BiTA, has emerged with a strong mission statement “BiTA was formed by experienced tech and transportation executives to create a forum for the development of blockchain standards and education for the freight industry. Our goal is to bring together leading companies in the freight technology industries that have a vested interest in the development of blockchain technology.”
In Ghana, blockchain technology is being used, in yet another innovative way, to solve complicated disputes over land ownership. A stunning 78% of the land is unregistered, and for the past 17 years, the Land Administration Project has been working in Ghana trying to solve the land dispute problem. However, corruption was present in every area of the public sector, something that blockchain effectively removes allowing the innovative firm Bitland to step in with a technology-based solution.
The future viability of cryptocurrencies is certainly questionable and with instability in market value its difficult to see how it will survive the crackdown of advertising. When innovative solutions are sought, it seems that blockchain technology has a valuable role to play and its ability to update many complex issues are just beginning.