The year: 2018, the technology: Blockchain. This revolutionary technology is changing the way that humans have transacted since the beginning of time, disrupting established norms like buying, selling and borrowing and breaking down barriers which restrict and threaten the freedom of trade.
Today, humans still rely heavily on large intermediaries of centralized institutions such as banks, governments, big social media agencies and credit card companies. These entities use their considerable strength to manipulate and manage the financial, business and even personal relationships of their customers who have no choice but to interact with them. Apart from the manipulative behavior of these middlemen, they are also centralized which means they are easily hacked, they exclude billions of people from the global economy (banks not offering services to under-privileged people), they have high charges and our privacy is being undermined; almost to the point that our own data is no longer ours to monetize.
But what if there was a better, more equitable way to ensure that transactions get transacted, contracts get executed and land titles are handed over to their true owners? Enter Blockchain: the next era of the internet which is simply an internet of value in the form of a globally accessible, distributed ledger where any kind of asset; from money to titles to music can be stored, moved, transacted, exchanged and managed without the intervention of powerful intermediaries.
Use case analysts are now looking at different ways that Blockchain technology can be used in solving many real-world issues that have persisted over long periods of time. These issues are:
- Altering the landscape of the real estate industry
- Bridging the prosperity gap created by many “shared economy” companies
- Using the Blockchain to eliminate the remittance rip-off
- Re-capturing the human identity: the fight for the right to monetize our own data
- Ensuring due compensation for the creators of value.
Altering the Landscape of the Real Estate Industry
The Problem: Unstable recording systems which were susceptible to multiple security breaches, thereby leading to manipulation of the system by bureaucrats and the interference of entities such as banks, lawyers and brokers in real estate transactions.
The Solution: Blockchain as a more reliable, cost-effective and efficient land registry. Countries such as Honduras, Kenya and the Isle of Man have begun to use Blockchain to store their land titles as it increases transparency in transactions and each record is cryptographically secure which prevents the system from being breached.
Blockchain also allows for the eventual elimination of intermediaries such as bankers, lawyers and brokers by shifting the nature of their roles and minimizing their participation in real estate transactions. This shift will result in buyers and sellers of property getting the most out of their money through the cancellation of commissions and fees charged by the intermediaries. This also makes the whole process faster as the back-and-forth between the interested party and the intermediary doesn’t exist.
Bridging the Prosperity Gap Created by Many “Shared Economy” Companies
The Problem: Centralized sharing services like Uber and Airbnb stand to earn $40 billion in platform fees annually by the year 2022 and the sharing economy is expected to grow to over $335 billion by 2025. However, this increased profitability is because the supposed “shared economy” is not shared by companies. They have become custodians of our money, our time and even our identity by capturing and monetizing our data and information.
The Solution: Using the Blockchain to cut out these rent-seeking middlemen and enabling people to carry out these transactions on the Blockchain independantly. For example; if Emma has an apartment she wants to rent out in LA from the 1st to the 31st of July, she can post an ad on a distributed application of the Blockchain. So, when Sam; in Sri Lanka wants to book an apartment from the 1st to the 31st of July, he will access the distributed application on the Blockchain to look at a list of rooms for rent and find the posting for Emma’s apartment.
The Blockchain will not only provide a medium for posting the ad, but also the framework for creating contracts, verifying the party and digital payments all on one platform, which means that the need for an intermediary – in this case the highly profitable Airbnb – is eliminated.
Using the Blockchain to Eliminate the Remittance Rip-off
The Problem: The current financial system relies heavily on wire transfers backed by banks and other financial institutions which cost users valuable time and money.
For example, let’s say Rani works in the Middle east and wants to send money across to her ailing mother in Sri Lanka. The transfer costs Rani 10% and takes 5-7 days to reach Sri Lanka and once she wires the money across; her mother must collect the money from a vendor who may not have a branch close to her home.
The Solution: With the advent of Blockchain, remittance transactions can take place through a fast, cheap and secure system.
If Rani were to use an application based on Blockchain technology to complete the same transaction, she could transfer the money straight from her mobile device to her mother’s mobile device without the interference of an intermediary. In this case, the entire scenario took place in a matter of minutes and the application charge would be a meagre 2% charged by the application.
This solution would disrupt an extremely financially wealthy practice, as remittances are the biggest in-flows of FDIs around the world.
Re-capturing the Human Identity: The Fight for the Right to Monetize Our Own Data
The Problem: Preserving the most powerful asset of the digital age. As humans who are a part of the information and sharing economy we are not at liberty to monetize the data and information that we have generated, as they are used and monetized by companies and entities that are out of our reach.
The Solution: Companies are now moving to create identities in a black box; the virtual identity created and maintained by you. The black box moves around with you – like a digital shadow and collects all the data trails you leave behind and only gives away tiny scraps of data when necessary – for verification processes etc. The avatar also sweeps all the data crumbs and help us to monetize it. This helps humans to protect their privacy which is the foundation of a free society.
Ensuring Due Compensation for Creators of Value
The Problem: Content creators do not receive due compensation and recognition for their work. Currently with the advent of streaming services, they do not receive adequate loyalties for their work as it has become so easy to access the free versions.
The Solution: Using Blockchain as a medium for diffusing content.
Creators of content such as singers and songwriters are now putting their music on a Blockchain and the albums and intellectual property rights are protected by smart contracts. The IP rights differ according to how the content is being used. If the music is just being used for personal enjoyment, a small sum will be charged, or the content will be free. However, if the content is to be used for commercial purposes, then the royalty fees will be significantly higher. The content itself becomes a business and it’s on the Blockchain, marketing itself, protecting itself and financing itself all by using the security and versatility of the technology to its benefit, and the artist is in control of their content. All the money that the content generates will flow right back to the creator of the content.
In all these scenarios Blockchain Technology, by establishing strong trust protocols, will disrupt the norm, and establish an internet of value based upon the values of collaboration, cryptography and clever code.