Blockchain was “born” as a technology in 2011 — and while it took the internet three decades to become what we know it as today — blockchain’s trajectory has been much faster. There is a lack however in use cases for now, but it is already evident what possibilities for both the virtual and physical world that blockchain presents. Underscored by the fact that blockchain is currently an area that attracts global investments, we are witnessing the continued maturity of a groundbreaking technology.
Back to decentralization
The internet began as a decentralized network but evolved into being centralized, led by technology companies as Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft. Consumer data offers the foundation of the widely used advertising-based business model which is used by many B2C platforms today i.e. using user’s data to leverage ad-revenue. With blockchain, companies and users have the opportunity to control and regulate data to a higher degree in the future.
Blockchain delivers a shared digital ledger which is updated and validated in real time as part of a distributed network. The chain provides full transparency of all activities including the location of an asset, its condition, ownership and pertaining regulations. User can therefore access “smart contracts” — code running on top of blockchain with rules for all parties interacting in the chain. These contracts allow us to decide how our data is used and whether we want to be asked and compensated for this use.
Blockchain can act as an operating system for digital identities and, as such, solves one of the major challenges of the internet as we know it today. Not only will we know where our data is at any given time, but we will also receive information to make sure that they are treated in accordance with rules and regulations. Blockchain can provide a safe and mobile identity for everything from physical objects and intellectual property to animals and people, thus merging the virtual and physical worlds.
Optimizing the value chain
For the world’s businesses, blockchain will be a crucial tool in optimizing the value chains of the future. Regulations, payments and documentation can all be controlled by algorithms, effectively removing the need for middlemen. This will diminish manual processes and paperwork that can lead to enormous cost savings and increase efficiency in industries such as trade, transport and logistics. We have seen a significant increase in food businesses working with new blockchain solutions.
Ripe.io is one of those businesses — and a company we have invested in, that are altering the trajectory of the food system through blockchain technology and Internet of Things (IoT) by designing a radically transparent digital food supply chain. In that way Ripe.io are harnessing quality food data to create the “Blockchain of Food”, which serves as a food quality network that maps the food journey that can answer what’s in our food, where it comes from and what has happened to it.
Emerging technologies are often perceived as the solution to all problems of the past which blockchain naturally is not — but it might solve some of the Earth’s challenges. It will be interesting to follow how blockchain will evolve and be operationalized over the next decade. We can expect the technology to mature through new applications across businesses and industries and through investments in startups leading the use of blockchain technology on a global scale.