If You Don’t Understand Blockchain Or Think It Won’t Apply To You; Read This

A lot of people I meet don’t understand the blockchain.  It’s sort of similar to when you first heard people ask, “Why does every business give a dot com address at the end of their commercial?”.  You’d tell them that the internet was going to be big.

The internet at the beginning was a bunch of walled gardens.  It didn’t apply or work it’s way into most people’s lives.  Only geeks and scientists saw the potential.

Blockchain is at the same point the internet was in the late 1980s.

Last night at dinner, I was speaking with a person that does a lot of work in the import-export business.  We were talking about the ins and outs of the business and he started talking about putting loads on boats in China and shipping to other countries.  In many cases, no one knows who owns what when.  Does the shipper own it?  The boat?  The manufacturer?  The bank?  The receiver?  The store where it’s going?

Certainly there are reams of legal documents that have been signed which can sort it all out.  But, that costs money and you have to negotiate the differences in international laws, regulations and a myriad of other things that add to the cost.

Blockchain can solve it.

There is still a lot of development to be done.  Standards have to be developed.  This is not unlike the rise of other new technologies.  For example, Fax wasn’t possible until a standard was established.  The same is true for many standards in computing.  Even the electricity in your house had a standards battle at the beginning.  In the US, AC beat DC.

My friend William Mougayar wrote a great book, The Business Blockchain, to get people thinking about how blockchain can be used.  Yesterday he penned a blogpost that is worth reading, even for someone that has no interest in investing in blockchain.  Eventually all kinds of blockchains will work themselves into our lives.  It will be seamless, and we won’t even know it. They will make the cost of goods and services change.  They will make our lives more efficient.  They will integrate with Artificial Intelligence, robots and even common appliances in your home.  It sounds like science fiction today, but it will be reality in the next twenty years.

  • Thanks Jeff.
    So many possibilities ahead, but it does still feel like early days.

  • I’m a fan of both you and William when it comes to fintech blockchain expertise.

    I understand blockchain a bit, more than most not involved.

    I honestly see your example as tech in search of a solution. i don’t need blockchain to do that. More won’t because of it.

    i believe it is a change agent potentially of some significance.

    I don’t think outside of the bitcoin vertical anyone really has an emotive and visceral idea of its place in our world.

    if they or anyone does, they are not communicating it to me and I”m an easy audience.

  • Some Rabbit

    Thanks for NOT explaining the latest buzzword du jour . Now people won’t understand it so much better. Say, wouldn’t be great if someone could 3D print blockchains?

    • not understanding your comment. Did you want blockchain defined? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blockchain_(database) It’s a distributed database. Unlike typical databases which are kept in one file-blockchain databases are kept in unlimited files across one chain. If you were familiar with commodity trading, a commodity clearinghouse is essentially a closed blockchain where there was proof of work, and proof of trust.

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  • Luke Besser

    Jeff,
    Interesting thoughts. In your example about the Chinese shippers, it sounds like the solution there would be a permissioned Blockchain. However, when you describe the future those solutions sound more like a public, permissionless Blockchain solution. Where do you think the future lies?

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