In the relatively brief time span since its inception, blockchain—the innovative architecture supporting the cryptocurrency boom—has transitioned from a passing curiosity to a game-changing technology. Today, blockchain is being hailed in tech circles as a disrupting force, and countless companies are taking advantage of the technology to design creative platforms based around its unique capabilities.
Even so, blockchain remains a niche technology, albeit one that is gathering momentum. The main issue holding back the technology is adoption. Blockchain-based systems are decentralized, and as such, rely on the strength and size of their networks to become more effective. Often, some projects are unable to show users why they should abandon existing systems in favor of their potentially revolutionary platforms. In addition, there are real barriers that still limit large-scale adoption.
For many new blockchain-based platforms, though, success has already started rolling in like ocean waves. Those platforms that can discernably highlight how they are leagues ahead of their predecessors have already taken flight, busily carrying the mantle demonstrating blockchain’s true potential across several industries.
Building A Better OTA
Online Travel Agencies, or OTAs, have become a staple for globetrotters seeking to formulate travel plans which include flights, hotels, and even auto rentals. While these entities conveniently centralize the process, they also raise the costs for hotels, airlines, and other companies due to high intermediary fees—costs that are eventually passed along to consumers. Because OTAs control the market, the problem merchants face is that these very OTAs have little incentive to adjust their model.
There have been some blockchain-based attempts at dethroning Kayak, Orbitz, and other OTAs, but recent entrant GOeureka is one of the more promising projects to emerge. The company already counts upon over 200,000 hotels listed on their service and delivers an intermediary-free process.
This means that overheads are lower, and consumers can access better deals without the associated fees and commissions. Moreover, GOeureka (and other platforms like it) can directly host other services like loyalty programs, with information made publicly available via the distributed ledger.
Being Brave Against Ad Giants
One of the biggest developments of the internet age is the rapid evolution of online advertising. Ads have become a pervasive part of the worldwide web in every sense. Companies saturate sites with marketing promotions by using an individual’s personal data to target content. This model has raised several concerns including privacy, a right to skip advertisements, ethical considerations, and the accompanying legality of these advertising tactics.
Blockchain’s privacy-oriented design presents a perfect solution to fit this growing problem. The Basic Attention Token, or BAT, offers consumers the ability to opt out of advertising and tracking practices, or be paid for those ads they do view. Users can browse the web from BAT’s own Brave Browser, which blocks online ads and tracking bots that collect user data to be sold to advertisers.
Instead, users can choose to opt in to advertisements without worrying their privacy is being invaded. The model has shown its mass appeal, with over 1 million users already on the network by the end of 2017. Advertisers also benefit from better data and audiences that are more open to what they’re promoting.
Creating Ripples Across the Finance Industry
Even with its many use cases, blockchain still remains closely tied to finance, and is already making waves in terms of facilitating cross-border transactability with greater ease. Cryptocurrency Ripple has shown real potential to facilitate transnational business thanks to its intriguing design and centralized controls. While many prominent blockchains already introduced to the market are public, and thus decentralized, Ripple’s private blockchain means it can control the number of coins available and keep their value relatively stable.
More importantly, Ripple has the support of the financial services community and is already widely used. The coin has been endorsed and implemented by more than 100 financial institutions including giants like American Express and MasterCard. Ripple is designed to expedite transaction times while remaining highly scalable, something bigger currencies like Bitcoin can’t currently claim. Unlike bitcoin, Ripple isn’t mined or widely traded as a speculative asset, so its volatility is also significantly lower, a popular characteristic in finance.
Transforming Traditional Cloud Storage
To hear blockchain-based cloud storage company Storj describe it, the centralized model of online storage is not just outdated, but dangerous. Cloud storage lets users access their data from anywhere, on any device, giving a feeling of a fully decentralized way to store information. However, this data is generally kept in centralized database servers, making it vulnerable to attacks that could be catastrophic for millions of users. Moreover, new entrants to the market face steep startup costs associated with buying and setting up storage infrastructure, which can prove prohibitive.
Storj uses blockchain to solve the cost problem by renting out its own users’ spare storage space to form a massive decentralized pool for users to save their data. Users can simply rent out storage space on the company’s platform, or they can actively participate in the storage unit and be compensated in tokens that are exchangeable for other coins and even fiat currencies. The company has expanded from 1 petabyte of storage space in 2015 to more than 30 petabytes. As more users join, the growth could turn exponential.
Carrying the Torch
While blockchain remains a niche technology for the moment, its potential is beyond doubt. As more companies enter the market and find innovative ways to deploy it, the technology will continue to disrupt entrenched industries. However, it is incumbent on the innovators in the field to demonstrate, not tell, consumers and businesses alike how blockchain will improve their lives. With more companies clearly able to demonstrate their disruptive value, the future looks is looking progressively brighter for blockchain.