If you’re a modern day criminal, the chances are you’ve used this technology to buy illegal guns or drugs, or to launder money.
But high profile institutions such as UNICEF and USAID have a different view. They think it could be a force for good, helping the poorest people in the world.
What is this new technology that many are fearful of yet promises so much?
It’s called “blockchain”, a decentralized system of computer protocols and algorithms, otherwise known as “distributed ledger technology”.
Blockchain rose to prominence in the wake of the global financial crisis of 2008. It’s highest profile application has come in the form of “cryptocurrencies”. These are new currencies created using blockchain technology.
The most well known cryptocurrency is bitcoin. You may remember the news stories from late 2017 as the price of bitcoin surged to unparalleled heights. Since then, the price of bitcoin has continually declined.
The steady decline in the value of bitcoin raises the question:
Is blockchain still alive and kicking?
It’s a question that I think many of us are asking. We often hear about the potential of blockchain, but are there real world applications being created that have the potential to create a positive impact?
With the price of bitcoin declining, it’s a good time to take a deeper look at what’s happening in the blockchain space.
Blockchain use is growing… FAST!
Don’t let the falling price of bitcoin fool you. Blockchain use is actually growing. Rapidly.
It’s important to distinguish between the falling bitcoin price and blockchain. Bitcoin is just one of the applications created using blockchain technology. There are many thousands more.
Consider the estimated number of people using cryptocurrency, put together by Judge Business School.
The total number of Ethereum accounts is closing in on 50 million, as shown by Etherscan.
The bitcoin bubble fuelled hype and mania
The falling price of bitcoin and many other cryptocurrencies is coinciding with more applications being created on the blockchain.
When crypto prices were increasing rapidly, it created massive hype and mania. This fuelled the bubble.
Hype and mania attracted people looking to make a quick buck who didn’t understand the technology.
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In mid 2017, at the height of blockchain mania, Australian Shark Tank investor and River City Labs founder Steve Baxter said that despite blockchain start-ups being “exceptionally valued”, many were “overhyped” and a “bit annoying”.
“It’s either blockchain or artificial intelligence, and it’s getting a bit annoying,” he said.
“I’ve got no blockchain startups in my portfolio, and I’m not in a hurry to find any.”
At the time, Baxter recommended that entrepreneurs solve a problem that people care about being solved.
Now, with the hype starting to die down, Baxter has changed his tune on the blockchain. He bought some ether and is now showing more interest in investing in blockchain start-ups.
Despite his shift in emphasis, Baxter maintains his focus on start-ups “that have traction, have customers, and have their product demonstrated in the market.”
Using the blockchain to solve real world problems
A fantastic example of a committed entrepreneur solving real world problems is Leanne Kemp. She’s one of Australia’s foremost digital pioneers and created Everledge, a blockchain technology company.
Everledge uses the blockchain to create a trusted data protocol to track the provenance of assets as they move through a supply chain.
For example, Everledger enables companies within the diamond supply chain to know with full certainty where the diamonds came from. It provides greater transparency and improves social impact as it increases the likelihood of ethical and responsible business practices in the mining industry.
Last month the World Economic Forum named Everledger as one of the most promising technology pioneers of 2018. In March the company completed a $10.4m funding round led by the Canadian arm of Fidelity Investments, enabling Everledger to ramp up its global expansion by opening an office in Israel. It already has offices in the UK, India, Australia and Singapore.
“When I look at what we can do at Everledger, just like Amazon moved beyond books, we can move beyond diamonds to tackle problems in the world’s biggest supply chains. These are huge tectonic plate shifts happening,” she says. “I think we are going to have a billion-dollar impact.”
Learning more about the potential of blockchain technology
It’s heartening learning about entrepreneurs like Kemp who are creating truly innovative solutions to problems that humanity faces, as well as investors like Baxter who have such a grounded perspective.
The declining price of bitcoin provides a good opportunity to learn more about the technology behind it, without the mania that accompanied the recent bubble.
If you want to learn more about blockchain and find out about the most exciting start-ups creating change in this space, I highly recommend checking out the Emergence conference.
It’s Australasia’s flagship conference for investment and capital raising and is attended by world leading investors, professional bodies, entrepreneurs and other participants in the emerging technology and innovation ecosystem.
Kemp and Baxter, mentioned above, are two of the keynote speakers.
Wholesale Investor were good enough to provide Ideapod community members with a range of discounts as well as free entry to the conference if you’re in Brisbane or Sydney. Click the links below and the discount code will be automatically applied:
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