The world is changing. From instant fund transfers to decentralisation to fraud and identity theft protection, the world of crypto looks as if it’s going to overhaul entire industries and businesses on a global scale. The question people ask is: is it good? And if it is good – for whom is it good?
Those in favour of cryptocurrency point to the many advantages of crypto coins, as well as of Blockchain technology: digital currency, instant transfer, decentralised applications, transparency, etc.
Those against cryptocurrency point to its shady origins, lack of regulations resulting in far too many crypto coins (nearly 2,000), ICOs that can be scams, and so forth. Certainly, the crypto world seriously disrupted businesses in more ways than Satoshi Nakamoto could have imagined, when he created Bitcoin, back in 2008.
The aim of this article is to review the possible positive future impact of cryptocurrencies and Blockchain technology in the tech industry, global utilities, the environment and more. From tech industry to healthcare, IoT, gaming, HR and even fishing, cryptocurrencies and Blockchain technology could truly revolutionise the economy on a global scale.
2. Cryptocurrencies in the tech industry
It started out slowly, but suspicion of Bitcoin and the crypto world in general, seems to be slowly evaporating in the tech industry. As a validation (excuse the pun), all one has to do is look at tech giants such as Microsoft, Dell and Dish, which are now accepting cryptocurrencies as payment. This is a revolutionary solution for peer to peer monetary transfer, but the effects of cryptocurrencies have now reached many businesses and industries, and the tech industry already is a major hub for crypto and Blockchain applications.
The positive effects of cryptocurrency on the tech industry
- A new line of professions
As with any growing technology, there will be a need for people in various crypto world related positions, and the demand for miners, Blockchain builders, and other crypto-related jobs is expected to rise.
- Accelerated fees, securer transactions & distribution
Blockchain technology offers tech companies different ways to transfer funds, execute agreements through smart contracts and track shipments through the Blockchain ledger which can help prevent the loss of valuable goods on errant shipments, all without the need for a middleman -such as a bank or other financial institution, saving time and a lot of money for the companies.
- Fraud/theft protection
Blockchain tech can help ensure that information is going through the proper channels only, without any intermediaries.
3. The future impact of cryptocurrency on global utilities
The irony is that while energy consumption is growing rapidly, thanks to the increased power required for Blockchain computing rigs, this same technology could boost the performance of current utilities and open up opportunities in other areas of global utilities, especially as the price of solar panels continues to drop. With the demand for more power will come the demand for cheaper energy.
One of the unique selling points, or advantages of cryptocurrency, is the security of monetary transfer, using the method of public and private keys. Blockchain transactions are more transparent and nearly impossible to forge.
The advantage of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Litecoin for e-commerce companies is, in addition to securer transfers, the elimination of costly payment processor and merchant services. Retailers can also apply smart contracts to automate and deliver goods.
While smart contracts can take over functions usually performed by third parties such as banks, money transfer companies or legal services, cryptocurrencies and digital wallets can provide flexibility in financial operations, such as credit for customers.
4. Cryptocurrency and the environment:
Anyone familiar with Bitcoin and Blockchain is by now familiar with the mining technique used by the miners, especially in the case of Bitcoin, to achieve consensus and validate transfers. It’s called “proof of work,” (PoW) and it consumes huge amounts of computing power. The more computing power one has, the better the chance one has to find the block’s Hash and achieve the Bitcoin reward. However, there is an immense cost of such operations – entire warehouses containing powerful computing rigs have been set up and are running at all times, requiring copious amounts of energy.
Realizing this, some companies are already aiming to start mining crypto coins such as Bitcoin – but in a more environment-friendly manner, such as the Moonlight Project, which aims to use only clean, sustainable energy sources to create Bitcoin and Ethereum cryptocurrencies.
SolarCoin as an example
An environment-themed crypto coin was launched in 2014, aptly named SolarCoin, as a digital currency for solar photovoltaic installations. Owners of such installations will be awarded with coins, the amount of which will depend on their annual energy output.
Users can apply their SolarCoins in a variety of ways, such as using them to shop in partner stores or exchanging them for conventional currencies. There are still not many partner stores and SolarCoin’s value is still relatively low, with an exchange rate of $0.55 as of February 5th. However, if more energy generators and individuals adopt the system, the value is expected to rise significantly. Investors expect its exchange value to eventually go up to around $20-$30, and its distribution and adoption is gradually growing.
As a technology, Blockchain is fast becoming a huge disrupter in the global economy, and many companies in various industries, from e-commerce to healthcare, have begun deploying it.
In the tech sector, a number of major tech giants are already supporting this technology by helping to fund Blockchain-related startup companies.
Blockchain and the environment:
A number of Blockchain operated grids are used to track energy consumption, as well as clean energy habits.
Typically, regular power grids are centralised, which creates discrepancies in the distribution of energy. Areas affected by natural disasters and/or power outages can leave people without access to electricity for days. A Blockchain-based energy grid can reduce the need to transfer electricity over great distances, thereby conserving energy along the way. A number of companies are active in this field.
- Carbon Taxing
Today, carbon footprint is typically not factored in the price of products. Blockchain technology could be used to track the carbon footprint of each product and tax it accordingly.
- Stimulating Action
Thanks to Blockchain technology, companies can keep track of environmental-related actions. In addition, individuals and companies can be encouraged to earn crypto tokens by taking environmentally friendly actions.
- Contributions to nonprofit organizations
Blockchain technology makes it possible to transfer funds directly to specific organizations, without the shackles of bureaucracy.
Recycling programs on the Blockchain, offering incentives with crypto tokens, are already active. dApps (decentralized applications) such as RecycleToCoin track data including cost, volume and the impact of the program locally.
The global effects of Blockchain
The Blockchain technology has already proven it can be disruptive in many sectors present in businesses and industries large or small: e-commerce, healthcare, finance, environmental conservation and more.
- Small businesses
Blockchain-based smart contracts can help reduce the pressure heaped on SMBs (small-to-medium businesses) by countless processes of invoicing, inventory, payroll, secure transactions, etc. Using smart contracts, SMBs can create, validate and approve contracts to suppliers, clients or customers.
- Blockchain and healthcare
One of the key issues in the healthcare industry is privacy and confidentiality of medical records. One company that has tackled the subject using Blockchain is MedRec, an MIT-backed enterprise that used Ethereum Blockchain technology to create family medical records that could be passed on safely and securely from one generation to another.
- Blockchain and real estate
Across the world, governments and companies are experimenting with Blockchain technology, to examine its effectiveness in different industries. In Sweden, a government agency demonstrated the potential of implementing Blockchain technology in real estate, by partnering with a local telecommunications company and a Blockchain tech company. The successful test included a transaction between buyer and seller, verification of government-approved digital signatures and the exporting of all required contracts.
Among the key benefits of Blockchain use in real estate, are:
- More real estate investment opportunities
- Improvement of the property search process
- Improvement of data access & management
- Accelerating the due diligence process
- Enhanced Title management
- More effective financial and payment processes
- Faster transactions
Blockchain and Universal Basic Income (UBI)
In recent years, the idea of Universal Base Income, or UBI, has been gaining a lot of steam. Big tech billionaires such as Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk and Virgin Atlantic mogul, Richard Branson have thrown their support behind this radical idea, whose aim would be to simplify the welfare system, provide a stable income, while replacing the current system of social security, unemployment and pension payments, as well as child support and tax spendings. However, its effectiveness has been unclear so far, and this is where Blockchain technology may help push UBI forward. The relative simplicity and immediacy of crypto currencies can push the crowd forward from apathy to entrepreneurship, particularly with robotics and Machine Learning supposedly taking over many of today’s and yesteryear’s jobs.
A number of UBI-related cryptocurrencies have come to the fore including: Circle, Manna and Grantcoin, all attempting to create a form of decentralized UBI for people to earn and trade cryptocurrencies.
6. How Cryptocurrency can become a game changer in the economic world
- The financial world
The rise of cryptocurrency represents a seismic shift in the financial world: since it operates independently of any central financial authority, it represents an avenue which the current financial powers-that-be (such as Wall Street) cannot control. It offers e-commerce businesses and traders a level of autonomy hitherto unavailable. . Using cryptocurrencies will allow vendors not to worry about payment service providers locking out their money for one reason or another.
Realising that cryptocurrencies and Blockchain technology are here to stay, financial institutions are looking to take advantage of them: banks are slowly adapting to the blockchain technology, using it to trade derivatives or even cotton. A consortium of banks is backing IBM in its creation of a Blockchain that will be utilised to facilitate international trading; in Australia, the stock market “down under” will be the world’s first ever blockchain-based stock exchange platform.
- Reducing the risk of scams & credit card fraud
The use of cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, for obtaining goods, carries much less risk than credit cards, which today are subject to many types of fraud. Combating counterfeit products is another area that can benefit from Blockchain technology, as demonstrated by e-commerce powerhouse Alibaba.
Over two billion people worldwide do not have or cannot own a personal bank account. A cryptocurrency account will allow them to transfer and receive payments. Countries with unstable or problematic banking systems, such as Venezuela, have turned to Blockchain or cryptocurrencies for help.
- A securer currency for lower-income families
In developing countries such as Kenya, over 50% of commerce is transacted through mobile phone credits. Services like these usually carry high service fees, and switching to digital currencies can save locals money, plus give them added security.
- Strengthening e-commerce
Large e-commerce retailers have already begun accepting crypto tokens such as Bitcoin or Ether as payment. Overstock.com, Expedia and Shopify are just a few examples of large companies that are now taking cryptocurrencies as payment.
Using cryptocurrencies eliminates the need of middleman (such as banks), offers more secure, faster transfers, eliminates the possibility of credit card fraud and brings smart contracts, escrow and machine payment contracts capabilities.. By using crypto coins such as Bitcoin instead of credit cards, both merchants and users eliminate charge fees, which can be up to 3% of the transaction amount. Reward programs, a decades staple of credit card companies, are already active, offering cash back in cryptocurrencies.
- Borderless payments
Crypto coins can be accessed from anywhere there is Internet access, and there are no restrictions differentiating international from local payments.
- More efficient transfers
No longer will individuals or companies be required to pay hefty fees simply to transfer funds between them, which would be prohibitive if it was done cross-country. Third-world migrants who send home money every month can save considerable amounts of money by using instant and low-fee transactions, even via mobile phone.
While crypto coins such as Bitcoin and Ether are not completely anonymous, other crypto coins, such as Monero, can offer tighter anonymity.
We are already seeing how cryptocurrencies and Blockchain technologies are disrupting the world in more ways than people may have dreamed. And while most of the noise and focus was at first mainly on crypto coins, such as Bitcoin (BTH), Ethereum (ETH) and others, more and more companies taking a closer look at the Blockchain technology itself. This is because the impact of the technology may be much more significant than the crypto tokens, which are just a byproduct. It will take a few more years to see how effective this technology can be.