The tipping point for blockchain technologies will come within 10 years. By then, 10% of global GDP will be stored using blockchain technology. Government will collect taxes via blockchain by 2023, just 6 years from now. These are the predictions of the World Economic Forum.
The rise from a nascent to mainstream technology will not be a one-horse race though. The convergence and confluence of a number of emerging technologies will propel the adoption of each of these technologies. We will experience an extended period of non-linear evolution and adoption and blockchain technologies will provide the connecting fabric enabling this future for one reason, it is a better fit than what we have been using for the past 20–30 years.
So where are we today?
The narrative for blockchain technology has focused largely on applications in the financial services sector. There have been forays into healthcare, into government services, into digital rights management and a host of other areas however the focal point has been financial services. 2017 has begun with a stronger focus on the crossroads of fourth industrial revolution technologies and got off to a bang at the Blockchain Expo in London last week at the Olympia. This is exciting as these crossroads are precisely what will drive the non-linear rate of adoption of the intersecting technologies. It’s great to see how both technologies are reaching out for each other, bringing us closer to smart cities and a smart society as a whole.
And, what is a smart city then?
Maybe it’s better to start with the ‘smart-less’ cities we live in today. The problem is, they are largely inefficient. Think about the daily food- and energy waste, the traffic jams that are keeping us from spending our precious time the way we want and the pollution that is harmful for our health. Things we already know for a long time, but seem unable to manage.
Now, when it comes to solving inefficiency, technology definitely has a proven track record. Think of behavioural citizen data, and data coming from smart objects everywhere (IoT) being securely transferred through blockchain technology across the different city networks (water, energy and transport). This will bring good insights and knowledge to these networks to make our cities ‘smart’. How about stand-by street lightning switching on when walking by, or traffic lights adjusting to prevent traffic jams from occurring?
Another aspect of ‘smart life’ is the impact it could have on the speed of innovation. What if something like an ‘IoT data market place’ would exist? A place where you can sell or buy data, in order to improve the quality of our lives, or the products we use? And what about the commercial potential when making use of smart contracts and shared revenues of all parties involved?
Matthew Van Niekerk, our CEO, presented his view on where the convergence of these technologies will take us in the years ahead and provided a live demo of the ‘IoT-data marketplace’ that we are building. And no surprise, we also spend most of the time doing the same for the many visitors that stopped by our booth. We had a great time and based on the reactions of crowd, it’s something we are very proud of!
Concluding from the keynotes held at the conference, minds were open and ideas on industries ripe for disruption got shared with passion. And passionate people will be needed, because implementing the technology is . just the easy part, it’s the change in mentality that takes years. I’m totally convinced we will see new fresh creative applications come forward during the 12 months ahead, going beyond well-known areas like KYC, fraud detection and banking solutions. Already looking forward to Blockchain Expo 2018!