As the Internet did in the 1990s, so blockchain is the technology that is revolutionizing the whole world, every industry and every company. What makes it so special are a series of unique features, unlike anything that existed until the beginning of 2009.
Blockchain is an inalterable records platform that eliminates the problem of “trusted third parties,” since all transactions are now guaranteed by technology and secured by cryptography.
What makes this technology a universal tool is that it can be implemented in almost any type of transaction or registration between one or more parties. Thus, a person, a company or a government can execute smart contracts, voting and elections, management of the supply chain, register patents and trademarks and all kinds of important documents (property titles, medical records, identity documents, personal records or credit history).
“While many focus on the price narrative, this fact is actually the tip of the iceberg: the maturation of projects like Zeppelin, Decentraland or MakerDao (all built on ethereum) shows that the advance of a sovereign Internet does not stop,” said Santiago Siri, founder of Democracy Earth.
In the financial use of blockchain, stablecoins marked the field. Diego Gutierrez Zaldívar, an enterprising bitcoiner and founder of the crypto company RSK, said that “In 2018, we saw how the technology and the regulatory framework around the blockchain did not stop developing.”
“We saw an awakening of the stablecoins (crypto-assets that follow the price of fiat currencies or commodities), the first steps of the security tokens (assets that represent shares of companies or shares of real estate shares). The first peer-to-peer payment processing network (Lightning) and the first intelligent contracting platform (RSK) secured by bitcoin, as well as the launch of networks with alternative security models such as EOS, while those already established on ethereum continued to advance in the process of experimentation,” said Zaldivar.
For Zaldívar, 2018 was a year in which, even with very pessimistic markets, construction and investment in the ecosystem did not cease for a moment. “In the next two years, when all these advances converge, the world will be able to perceive for the first time the revolutionary transformation that Bitcoin began and that will give birth to the new Internet of Value.”
Blockchain is like a river that is finding where to go. The application of this technology varies from industry to industry, but this year there were some outstanding cases.
The art industry was one of the most innovated this year. Blockchain is helping to shape a new way to access the art market in the future. How? In July 2018 the blockchain platform Maecenas partnered with London’s Dadiani Fine Art gallery to offer fractional entries in a play by Andy Warhol (1980). 32% of Warhol’s work went on sale in bitcoin (BTC) and in ethereum (ETH), totaling approximately USD 5.6 million at the time of the transaction. The interesting thing is that the executive director of Macenas said that this was “the first work of art of many more to come.”
The tokenization of a work of art democratizes access to products that are generally accessible only to a few, allowing the diversification of investment and the reduction of transaction costs.
In addition to that milestone in the history of blockchain, Christie’s New York did not want to be left behind and partnered with the blockchain Artory with the aim of registering some of the blockchain transactions. Among those transactions, the most important sale of the year was recorded, which involved an operation of USD 318 million. This implied that being stored in blockchain, the interested party can trace the history, the origin of the product, as well as maintain the anonymity of the buyer and seller.
“Provenance and authenticity are the main determinants of the value of any work of art,” said Artory’s founder. “At present, it has been impossible to have total confidence in these aspects for many works of art,” he added.
Similar to what is happening in the art industry, blockchain is changing the way we do real estate buying and selling business. The use of smart contracts to complete real estate contracts, trusts, property registers (deeds) and the deposit of funds without the need to hire lawyers or scribe for operations.
They are the vending machines 2.0: the buyer deposits the money and the machine (the software) gives you the title. All without the intervention of a human being. The operation could become, in the near future, as easy as buying noodles on the Jumbo, Carrefour or Coto page.
This is one of the edges where more pilots use blockchain, especially to avoid the endless stacks of papers and documents necessary for foreign trade. Why do we depend so much on the physical role when the rest of our life is almost completely digitized? The results of removing both paper from the medium is a significant reduction in administrative costs and an immediate simplification in accessing the records necessary to operate. In addition, using blockchain accredits security that is provided by the decentralized nature of the network.
In the area of logistics, blockchain can track the merchandise in real time. In fact, Walmart partnered with IBM to work on the Hyperledger Fabric platform to register the supply chain of its food products.
This technology comes to kick the board of this monstrous industry. According to data from the World Bank that measures logistics performance (LPI), an average export in Argentina takes 51 hours and costs about USD 210. On the contrary, the cost of an import reaches USD 1,400 and takes about 10 days, including the times of customs procedures.
It also promises to be consolidated for the tracking of luxury merchandise, since the origin of such expensive blockchain products and the ownership record can be certified. With the storage of documents such as photographs, reports and certifications, those interested can achieve reliability in the authenticity of the goods.
The exponential growth of the internet has coincided with an increase in the number of cases of identity theft and fraud. According to the Breach Level, in 2017, 2.6 billion documents were stolen around the world. 67% of the total is due to theft of identity documents. When using blockchain for identity verification a new dimension in security is added.
Locally, Red Link together with Signatura announced that they are working on a digital identity pilot, which promises to revolutionize the way we handle traditional financial institutions. A person can verify their documents (ID, bank records, services in your name, etc.) with an entity and store it in blockchain. Then, you can give access to another entity (another bank, for example) to those documents that have already been validated and digitized by the previous company, saving time and valuable resources.
In the world of solidarity, this technology allows the tracking of funds so that they are used specifically for the reason they were donated. This prevents corruption and transparency for donors who can check in real time where their money is going.
The World Food Program is already using blockchain in conjunction with biometric technology to ensure an efficient and secure delivery of external assistance to Syrian refugees in Jordan.
The well-known bitcoin and blockchain educator Andreas Antonopoulos said in a recent interview with Cripto247 that the gaming industry will be one of the first to adopt this technology in different projects.
With the use of this decentralized technology and the creation of what we call non-fungible tokens (NFT in English), such as those compatible with ERC-721 created by CryptoKitties, end users can create characters, weapons, vehicles that they will possess for lifetime. There are already games like CryptoWars or Decentraland that allow you to create your own digital products. In this last game, users have the possibility to buy virtual land with real mortgage loans promoted by RCN, a peer-to-peer platform that uses smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain.
“As regards gaming, it was a fundamental year, just a few months ago a blockchain game could not be played on mobile, now it is possible, a year ago there was no infrastructure to scale thousands of users, however our game CryptoWars had 100,000 transactions in the blockchain in the last 5 days, 2018 was a year of infrastructure generation hinge, in 2019 I hope to see games that reach millions of people since technology will allow it, “explained Matías Nisenson, CEO of Experimental.
Gonzalo Blousson, president of the NGO Bitcoin Argentina and founder of Signatura explained: “This year was a year of experimentation, we have seen a lot of developments and implementations of proof of concept that apply blockchain technology in almost all industries, trying to find where blockchain today is able to provide more value “.
He added that he hopes that in 2019 it will be the year in which we will see how many of these POCs become productive solutions, improving the efficiency, security and transparency of many processes and, above all, allowing the development of new solutions whose implementation was not possible until the appearance of blockchain.
This story was originally published in Spanish at Cripto247