Is the blockchain overhyped?
Editor's note: This article first appeared in Mobile Payments Today's new sister publication, Blockchain Tech News.
The blockchain is getting a lot of attention these days. Several major banks, including Santander and J.P. Morgan, recently finished up a blockchain tech pilot. The U.S. Postal Service also has outlined potential use cases for blockchain tech.
Others in industries ranging from agriculture to health care to real estate to shipping and transportation are investigating the usefulness of the blockchain to their business.
Despite the excitement, though, some might argue that blockchain hype is overblown and that the technology is just a glorified distributed ledger.
Is the blockchain worth the hype? Blockchain Tech News interviewed Michael Vogel, CEO of Netcoins, to get his perspective.
BTN: What are some of the key similarities and differences between blockchain and distributed ledger technologies?
Vogel: A distributed ledger does necessarily require its information to be broken down into blocks, as is the case with blockchain — the only requirement is that the ledger's contents be a shared and synchronized consensus of information. Blockchain is just a very elegant way to implement distributed ledgers.
BTN: In what ways do you see blockchain tech growing in the near future?
Vogel: Blockchain (and the bitcoin blockchain in particular) are already changing the world of finance. It's a revolution that is bigger than internet itself, plain and simple.
Transactions can be programmed to record anything of value: documents; financial accounts; insurance; property title; contracts or payments.
Even institutions like banks, stock exchanges, lenders or credit card networks can make use of blockchain to implement instant settlements. You know how it takes 3 days to settle a trade in your stock brokerage account? With blockchain, these settlements can occur instantly!
Global financial remittance [i.e., Western Union] is also being disrupted, because [the bitcoin] blockchain is being used to enable frictionless and instant remittances. This will have a huge impact with cost savings for families that rely on weekly remittances sent overseas.
BTN: Is the blockchain overhyped?
Vogel: I recommend that anyone interested in blockchain must read "The Blockchain Revolution" by Don and Alex Tapscott. This is a phenomenal book which breaks down the blockchain future in a very lucid manner. After reading it you will most definitely not see the potential of blockchain as overhyped — perhaps it's actually underhyped!
Despite our society already being well into the digital age, the main reason that blockchain is so revolutionary is that, for the first time in history, two parties who neither know nor trust each other can transact and do business. Blockchain solves the need to have a trusted third party to complete a transaction.
Bradley Cooper / Bradley Cooper is a Technology Editor for DigitalSignageToday.com. His background is in information technology, advertising, and writing.