Our latest Gist report briefly looks at the future of Bitcoin and its related technologies – blockchain, smart contracts and distributed autonomous organizations. Proponents say Bitcoin will decentralize power away from banks and other institutions while distributing it across whole communities. If these promises hold true, Bitcoin will only be the beginning.
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What is changing?
Financial institutions are investing in the blockchain to make their job easier and more secure. R3 CEV is a company specifically set up to help banks trial blockchain technology. They lead a consortium of 42 banks who want to see how blockchain technology could change their industry, the potential of which R3 compares to how the internet changed the music and media industries.
However, the blockchain could be useful for so much more than just financial transactions. Ubitquity has developed a blockchain platform specifically for the real estate industry. The company says the new platform will improve the title transfer process by making it faster, more accurate, and more transparent for fraud prevention. And they say it will improve the due diligence process for the industry.
Multiple organizations are working to use blockchain tech to make voting more secure, and anonymous. In 2014 a major political party in Denmark, the Liberal Alliance, used blockchain tech for its own internal party voting. Since the blockchain relies on consensus anyway, it is inherently a voting platform and could one day be modified by government entities for such purpose.
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies offer a libertarian ideal that could destabilize the current infrastructure of banks and other powerful institutions. The blockchain offers distributed, secure, trusted and highly scalable architectures that conventional technologies cannot compete with. Although the banking industry is pre-empting disruption by investing in this new technology, many of their business models and revenue streams will be affected especially with increased competition from the tech industry. The opportunity for the financial industry is high, but the potential risks are also large especially for smaller players in the industry.
- By 2027, 10% of global GDP will be stored on a blockchain network.
- Multiple bitcoin and blockchain companies will raise $100m rounds and reach $1bn valuations next year (2016).
- Several studies indicate that in the next four years the global market for digital transactions will reach $9.5 billion while global blockchain technology investments will reach $300 billion.
- Micropayments are expected to reach $13 billion over the next three years as cryptocurrencies gain greater acceptance.
- Decentralized payments technologies could transform the “business architecture” for money transfers.
- Blockchain could eventually cut costs for financial services such as credit cards, remittances and money transfers.
- Bitcoin technology could potentially be as disruptive as the internet itself.
- A system like this could transform the way people consume media online and enable content creators to receive payment directly on a pay-per-use basis.
- Brand equity in the industry will likely flow from partnerships with others in the ecosystem as banks play catch up with super-consumer brands such as Google and Apple.
- Reliance on third parties for noncore infrastructure and talent will be a common phenomenon as banks become increasingly connected via a complex network or web of vendors and third parties.