While the biggest Western Fintech firms and “move fast, break things” crypto start-ups are expanding, many sectors of the economy are still trying to grasp what blockchain, bitcoin and all the rest of them could possibly mean.
Companies CEOs working in non-tech areas of the economy (is that still possible?) are victims of the worst FOMO outbreak since the dot com Bubble. Rumors predict oblivion for those who don’t embrace this revolutionary technology.
A blockchain-for-all-things fever is raging in the social media; the minds of influencers are boiling up, and the gurus are experiencing crestal visions. But you sincerely ask yourself: “I sell shoes; why on earth should I be concerned with blockchain?” The question is both judicious and naive.
Before going further down the road to answer this riddle, just consider for a moment that FOMO is a symptom of bad time management. “Am I too late to get into blockchain?” is an irrelevant question. “Uber, Groupon, Airb&B, Spotify, Twitter and Facebook were all created after the dotcom bubble.” A combination of bad time management skills and a lack of basic knowledge about blockchain (I mean very basic stuff); that’s the quickest way to a nervous breakdown, if you happen to be a CEO simmering in FOMO juices. You could, however, spare yourself all this suffering if you meditate on some very basic considerations.
Firstly, Blockchain technology is in its infancy. Bitcoin has been around for ten years and, it’s true, it has done remarkably well; but Satoshi Nakamoto’s creation is still far from enjoying a solid worldwide reputation as a store of value or a medium of exchange. As for bitcoin or Ethereum Blockchain, we are still at the very beginning, working out the plumbing. Smart contract technology on Ethereum proved to be effective with ERC tokens, but we are far from perfect in terms of complexity; smart contracts are still pretty rudimentary (they’re close to the automation existing in a soda vending machine). The day we enjoy the delights of a fully functioning Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) is still a long way off. Scaling issues have not been solved (transactions per minutes, block size, etc.) and limit open-blockchains public adoption, but the best bitcoin experts are working on it. Solutions will be found; it’s just a matter of time.
Secondly, you will need to do some homework. There are plenty of free resources online about blockchain, bitcoin and cryptocurrencies (you could for instance check Jameson Lopp and Andreas Antonopoulos). You would do well to avoid mainstream media on blockchain and cryptocurrency matters. They are very predictable; they have a one-track mind. Just mention a technological paradigm shift, and they start foaming at the mouth. Their credo in one line: “bitcoin is an internet currency used by drug cartels, terrorists and pedophiles”. Open blockchains (Bitcoin and Ethereum) are for “drug cartels, terrorists and pedophiles” too. Believe me; it’s worth doing your research and forming your own opinions…
Thirdly, even if prophets tell you that the whole of society will be transformed by blockchain, hold your horses! That might come true in 40 years. Meanwhile, take your time, as your line of business might not necessarily benefit right now from a blockchain upgrade. If you sell shoes and you are an SME, don’t even bother. First of all, remember that a blockchain is a ledger. There are two kinds of ledgers; “open” and “permissioned”. In a nutshell, permissioned blockchain are fancy Excel sheets. They are used by huge companies which want to disintermediate, to cut out the middle man, to maximize data storage, big data and supply chains. Open ledgers (also named permission-less) are hardcore and truly revolutionary. That’s why banks, financial institutions, governments, dictatorships hate them.
In summary, blockchain technology is so versatile that you must do your own research and think outside the box. The promises of it are endless. Those promises are game changers; open blockchain technology in all its forms is a game-changer but you will not be able to imagine their scope until you understand that beyond the technical aspects, blockchain is above all politically very disruptive. The kind of blockchain you choose to adopt will help keep the world as it is, or change it completely.