Blockchain technology is still seen as nascent, embryonic, and looking for a problem to solve as the world comes to grips with this new and potentially revolutionary technology. But, in effect, Blockchain has been around for more than 10 years now and not really found a home yet.
To be fair, the focus shift onto blockchain, and away from cryptocurrency, only truly began in 2018 when the value of Bitcoin slumped and the fervour of trading it dies away leaving many who were not speculators to examine the underlying technology.
However, since then, the blockchain hype has been real, and it has been all-encompassing. Some of the biggest banks in the world are testing it out, it is being piloted in supply chains by the likes of Nestle and Walmart, and has branched out to governments and startups alike. Yet, there is still no true killer app.
We are starting to reach a point where Blockchain could become a passing phase if it is not rooted, and this leaves 2020 as a pivotal year for the technology as another year of piloting and testing and no real application may see people leaving the technology behind.
A hype cycle
It is interesting that the hype that surrounding Bitcoin in 2017 was the very reason why blockchain was thrust into the limelight in 2018. When the hype brought the space into the mainstream, the crypto hype fizzled away fro a year or so to leave a pretty impressive technology behind. However, that technology remains a solution looking for a problem.
Companies and people have been looking to blockchain to solve all kinds of problems such as voting, payments, digital ID, and supply chain management, but they have also been looking to shoe-horn the technology in where it often is not needed.
More so, the technology has been hyped up so much that it has gained rather infamous notoriety alongside its by-product – cryptocurrencies.
“The idea of a blockchain, the cryptographically enhanced digital ledger that underpins Bitcoin and most cryptocurrencies, is now being used to describe everything from a system for inter-bank transactions to a new supply chain database for Walmart. The term has become so widespread that it’s quickly losing meaning,” explains Adrienne Jeffries at the Verge.
Waiting to prove its potential
But, perhaps the potential of blockchain has only just been proven. We understand that there is a lot that can be done, and a lot of piloting and testing by major corporations has taken place, so could 2020 be the year of the business case?
Antoine Poirson, a partner at Antler, an early-stage venture capital firm and startup builder, still believes blockchain could make it.
“If blockchain technology has been overhyped in the past, mainly because of the hype around cryptocurrencies which rely on this technology, it does have a lot of potential,” he said.
“Allowing trust to be created in a distributed manner remains very powerful, and a lot of broader use cases have started to emerge. Blockchain technology is an enabler for business model innovation, however, until the business cases have been identified, the potential of the technology is not fully utilized,” Poirson added.