Is blockchain technology the new internet? This is a question that you should be asking yourself considering the near universal applicability of blockchain technology. Both public institutions and private companies in different sectors could benefit immensely by integrating blockchain technology into their operations.
The strength of blockchain technology mainly lies in its ability to offer a platform where you can transact securely. The distributed ledger creates a tamperproof log of all transactions. Since you cannot unilaterally alter the record, blockchain can be very useful in keeping important records, whether for government institutions or business organisations.
Similarly, blockchain technology can provide transparency in international financial transactions since you can always refer to the records in case of a dispute. This presents a viable and secure alternative to current banking processes that are riddled with bureaucracies, are slow and expensive.
The decentralized nature of blockchain databases makes it impossible for cyber criminals to interfere with or destroy the database as they usually target central data storage points. With blockchain, every node has a local copy of the database so that even if one node is attacked, the rest remain intact.
The applications of blockchain are almost endless, many already discovered, some being tested and others still yet to be discovered- they go beyond digital currencies and money transfers. It can work for all transactions involving value (goods, money and title). It can also work for all transactions involving record keeping. Is there a business transaction does not involve record keeping? Away from business transactions, the technology can be used in many government functions including the keeping of records in public administration, election management, and public welfare administration.
But is blockchain technology the new internet? Jon Evans of TechCrunch has argued that blockchain technology can best be compared to Linux in 1996 and not the Internet. Blockchain solutions are decentralized and more democratic than current systems. The open-sourced Linux was similarly more democratic and technically compelling than the Microsoft and Apple operating systems that dominated the market in 1996. However, very few people used Linux-it was too counterintuitive, too complicated and too clunky. Most people were fine with the mainstream solutions and found no need to move.
This sounds familiar with what is happening with blockchain technology. There is a lot of groundbreaking work in decentralized distributed storage platforms like Sia, Storj and Blockstack. But would an ordinary person already comfortable with dropbox switch to blockstack? Blockstack may be more than just storage but does it solve any compelling painpoint for the average user?
Just the same way consumers did not move to Linux, even though it was cheaper and more powerful than the alternatives, they may not move to blockchain as well. There is likely going to be a few attempts to make blockchain technology commercially viable for consumers but it may only end up gaining dominance in vital applications behind the scenes. This is exactly what happened to Linux and today, there are billions of active Android devices running on the Linux kernel.
While today everybody hopes that blockchain will replace existing systems, it may end up being beneficial in a completely different way as happened with Linux.