Everyone agrees: Blockchain applications have the potential to solve any number of real-world problems. Indeed, people are already using blockchain to organize supply chains, donate to flood relief, and even pay for their dinner.
That’s great. But why does it feel like we’re still living in the past? Well, the flipside of this digital coin is that, while blockchain is doing some amazing things, it’s not doing them in enough places. Scams, government crackdowns, and market volatility have all kept the mainstream adoption of blockchain applications low. Really low. So what is blockchain already doing for us, and when can we expect the blockchain revolution to begin in earnest?
Taking care of business with blockchain applications
If you thought cryptocurrencies had nothing in common with roast goat, you’d be wrong. At this rural Kenyan restaurant, you can trade one for the other.
Betty’s Place accepts bitcoin and dash in exchange for mouth-watering local specialties. At the moment, only these two coins are officially on the menu, although the owner of the restaurant accepts other viable cryptocurrencies when they’re offered. The application is as simple as paying with a credit card; customers just transfer coins to the owner’s wallet.
A logistics company called dexFreight is also using blockchain to take the trucking industry up a gear. dexFreight uses the bitcoin-secured Rootstock (RSK) sidechain for its freight transportation platform. In October 2018, dexFreight successfully transported frozen food from Medley to Sunrise in Florida, its first blockchain-powered shipment. The company uses smart contracts to hold the payment in escrow while the shipment takes place. Once the goods arrive, so does the money.
While dexFreight was bringing blockchain applications to the shipping industry, HTC provided its own solution for the communications sector: the first ever blockchain-based phone. The phone is built specifically for crypto-enthusiasts, with extra security features and the ability to hold multiple wallet keys. Don’t bother getting out your credit card; this phone can only be purchased with crypto.
Using blockchain applications for social change
Keeping irreversible ledger records is one of blockchain’s greatest strengths, especially for governments, community organizations, and NGOs. Take Venezuela’s forced implementation of Petro, a crypto alternative to the country’s failing fiat currency. The application of this new cryptocurrency “encourages” citizens of the country to use the blockchain network to pay for goods, services, and even bills, with every transaction stored on a transparent, tamper-proof ledger.
Hull City supporters have also adopted their own blockchain application to help them avoid a corporate takeover. Supporters will be able to easily buy shares in their club using a new blockchain-powered crowdfunding system.
Blockchain applications are also changing the way people donate to charity. In October this year, Binance announced it had raised more than US$1 million in ERC-20 and bitcoin donations to provide flood relief to Japan. Binance then sent that money to Japanese NGOs, businesses, and government agencies. None of this would have been possible without blockchain.
Why is mass blockchain adoption taking so long?
According to recent analysis by Coinmap, blockchain applications have a long way to go before they become mainstream. The number of businesses that accept cryptocurrencies worldwide has risen from 2,000 in 2014 to almost 12,000 in 2018. However, that’s still a drop in the ocean compared to the number of businesses that only accept fiat currencies.
Another recent study by Capgemini found that only 3% of companies that use blockchain applications do so in all their operations. Most either confine blockchain to a small part of their business, or are still testing the technology. While this suggests that blockchain adoption is happening very slowly, there’s still room for optimism. The same Capgemini report also forecasts that mainstream blockchain application will occur by 2025, with huge growth expected in the next few years.
As we can see, the real-world use of blockchain is no longer just a theory; it’s already making waves around the planet. Right now, those waves are few and far between. But it won’t be long before the tide turns and blockchain applications begin to unleash their full potential.