You may or may not know the underlying disruptive technology of Bitcoin is Blockchain. To put this into context, Bitcoin is to Blockchain as the Web is to the Internet, Bitcoin is like an app that runs on the Blockchain technology.
In case you don’t know, Blockchain is a decentralised database that maintains the ledger of all transactions, and because it is decentralised there is no intermediary institute that is charging a fee for the transaction. It is instant, and the most secure transaction that is currently available. The fact that the database is decentralised, means that any attempt to create a fictitious transaction is blocked because it would require over 50% of all instances of the Blockchain database to agree that the transaction meets the criteria before it is deemed valid.
The interesting thing about Blockchain is that it is a programmable transaction. Programmable transactions provide a method for secure contracts to be embedded into the transaction itself. For example if you buy a physical product from the internet, you currently have no guarantee that your purchase will ever arrive. Currently the only way to protect yourself is to hope that your purchase is covered by the financial institution you used for the transaction, or to set up a complex and usually cost prohibitive escrow. What if you could assign a contract to your transaction by using Blockchain? By using Blockchain you could buy your physical product over the internet but add a contract to it that says that the financial transaction is only ever completed once DHL (other couriers are available) delivers the product to you. You could even set a time limit to the transaction in case you need the delivery before a specific date. All three parties (buyer, seller and courier) would adhere to the contact and the risk is minimised.
As you can imagine, this type of secure contract based transactions could be applied to many things apart from financial transactions – copyright protection, insurance contracts, identity verification, authentication, voting, property ownership, corruption control, automatic auditing…the list goes on and on. Because Blockchain provides everyone with a secure method to transact without requiring a broker or intermediary, the power is shifting from businesses to consumers and aiding the rise of Me2B.
The challenges this technology brings to businesses are huge. It will impact the world more than the internet has since the 90s. Looking back at how the internet was perceived then, companies didn’t take on board how disruptive the internet will be, Bill Gates famously quoted “I see little commercial potential for the Internet for at least 10 years”, though to give him his due, he backtracked on this statement.
Businesses need to look into how Blockchain can help their business now, otherwise risk getting left behind by new more efficient, smarter and secure businesses using Blockchain to provide far better services.