Ville Sointu, Technical business development lead and head of financial services standardization for Ericsson M-Commerce, blogs on the future of Blockchain and it’s potential:
Have you ever wondered what would happen if someone invented a computer that couldn’t be shut down, regulated or controlled by any single entity and always be online? A computer that would allow you to create indisputably documented and quantified relationships with anyone else using that same computer? Unless you’re a big fan of the Matrix movie series, you probably haven’t. This might not be the case for very long though; today blockchain technology has emerged to reality from the subconscious of techno-utopians like the inventors Bitcoin and Ethereum.
So what could one do with this type of “planetary scale” computer of sci-fi lore? The fact that person to person (or machine to machine) relationships could be recorded and maintained virtually forever without a central entity is certainly an interesting prospect for truly transparent financial services on a global scale.
This is probably why most of the hype we see today around blockchain technology is focused around FinTech startups. An interesting summary of Bitcoin and blockchains in the financial industry is “Dear Big Bank CEO, Re: Blockchains: Obliterate, don’t Automate” by William Mougayar. It was this article that got me thinking about how cryptotechnology and decentralized (distributed) consensus ledgers are going to impact the broader scope of Networked Society.
As everything that benefits from a connection becomes connected, countless ownership and asset management issues will arise. Who will own the critical control points of each connected ecosystem? Who will regulate and oversee all of it? In the Networked Society every connected thing has to also have an identity and a recognized ownership definition on some level. Distributed ledger technology – a.k.a. our planetary scale computer – sure seems to be an efficient way to achieve this and avoid giving retailers or IT service providers too much control over our digital information.
Smart contracts on blockchain based distributed application platforms will be the answer to the Networked Society question about how devices will make value-related transactions between each other without a central entity.
Is it fair to assume that the social and economical structures we have in place today should prevail in this new world? Will they scale? I think not. In the connected future, decentralization is the only way to safeguard a free society that stimulates innovation and growth.
What do you think about ownership and control in the Networked Society? Will Bitcoin’s blockchain become a beacon of decentralization for the Internet of Things? At least in financial services one thing’s for sure, says Dave Birch:
“The future of money is not bitcoin and the future of bitcoin is not money.”