We may be on cusp of a new digital revolution.
Chances are you have already heard about it. However, like most people you may have dismissed it thinking that it was only something for “geeks”. If predictions are right, then this revolution may be as fundamental as what the Internet has brought us already.
What is this revolution? It is something known as block chain.
You have probably never heard of block chains but there’s a good chance that you’ve heard of something that is built using block chain technology. Let’s explain. That something is bitcoin, which many are touting as a new currency for the Internet age. Bitcoin is already being used around the world as a digital currency to allow people the ability to buy, sell and trade value anywhere.
As with many new technologies, it is easy to get caught up in all the hype and hoopla of something new like bitcoin but if you step back and take a look at the under pinning’s of bitcoin you’ll find something that may be poised to fundamentally change the way everyone does business by digitising one of our most common human interactions.
Block chain is all about trust. Today we rely on ‘trusted’ third parties like governments, banks, courts, etc to verify transactions and interactions we have today. However, imagine if you could instead rely on a public global ledger of transactions that was protected from alteration by unbreakable encryption. Image a world where your transactions are recorded in the global ledger, and where your identity is confirmed automatically by the system – for everyone to see.
Money, such as bitcoin, is the first representation of commercial block chain implementations – but that is only the beginning. Imagine ‘smart contract’ that are verified by each party directly using their own unique encryption key. Imagine purchasing a piece of fruit and being able to easy trace the full history of that item, from source to store, simply by scanning a bar code. Imagine a world where monetary transactions happen directly between parties without intermediates and without fees or charges. It is a world where anything with value can be represented by software.
Software revolutionised the way we communicate thanks to the Internet – imagine what it could do with transactions.
Yes, it is still early days for block chain technology, think 1990’s Internet era today, but the acceleration and adoption is beginning to ramp up. Governments and big businesses are beginning to pay attention to this revolution that is democratising transactions and moving them away from centralised institutions like banks to individuals.
If you consider the speed and size of change the Internet brought, chances are block chain is going to have an impact even greater than this.