With much of the media focusing on the markets, and with many authorities worried about a technology that threatens their hegemony, it can be hard not to buy into the FUD infecting the crypto ecosystem and to forget what the technology could do for the ordinary person. But look hard enough, and there are still plenty of reasons for crypto enthusiasts to remain hopeful.
The blockchain was envisaged as a way to democratize the exchange of value, but since the publication of Bitcoin’s whitepaper in 2008, this idea has been adopted by scores of developers who are bringing new ideas to the table. The result is the inexorable evolution of what could be the most significant innovation of our time, and there are a few projects we should be excited about.
The initial intent of Bitcoin to provide a decentralized, anonymous P2P system of exchange can’t be overlooked, but amidst growing calls from authorities to bring it under the regulatory umbrella, the future of democratized money is uncertain at best. Ideally, we would all be masters of our finances, but the road to widespread adoption will be long, and it will certainly meet powerful opposition.
However, that isn’t to say that in the meantime cryptocurrencies can’t continue to work in the interests of the common person. The argument for decentralized currency is not going to go away, but even if governments try to control the technology (which will be difficult for them to achieve), costs of exchange could be greatly lowered, microtransactions would be possible, and we’d have greater control over our money and how to spend it.
One example often used to highlight the merits of blockchain technology is of the woman living in a patriarchal society where a man controls her money. The technology can give her power over her funds so that she can break free from her shackles. This example is evocative enough to stand alone, but there are infinitely more possibilities.
Coca-Cola and the US State Department have recently announced a project to curb modern-day slavery using blockchain’s distributed ledger technology. They’ll be working alongside others such as Bitfury and Emercoin to make this a reality. If successful, other companies will need to follow their example.
The project underlines the world-changing potential of the technology —not only to make a difference in the lives of those suffering from terrible injustice but to encourage big businesses to work together to make sure it happens.
It’s the 21st century, and we are generating mountains of data every time we use our phones or open our laptops. We have digital fingerprints that companies value and profit from, often without our knowledge or permission. If our data is valuable, why do we not reap the benefits? Projects like Loomia are looking to change that and put control of our data back into our own hands so that we can choose whether to share or sell it and so that we can decide which companies to make that data available to.
It’s not just data that can be protected either. Elementh is an e-commerce blockchain that creates a register that proves ownership of goods (safeguarding individuals against theft or loss) as well as ensures that the customer isn’t swindled by receiving counterfeit items.
The evolution of different projects using blockchain is like hundreds of snowballs rolling down a hill. As time passes, the majority of projects are likely to fall apart, but some will grow and become powerful enough to impact the world. When that time comes, the masses will take notice and there will be no going back.
The technology is here to stay and these examples don’t even begin to do justice to its potential — it will change our worlds.
Michael is an English and Creative writing graduate of Liverpool John Moore’s University, a former editor of several magazines, and a crypto-currency enthusiast. He is mostly interested in crypto-legislation and the potential of decentralized technology to change the world.