This year’s two-day Blockchain Futurist Conference, hosted by Untraceable in Toronto, featured top leaders in Blockchain technology and their discussions around the future of the technology’s usability in businesses and every day life. This conference brought together blockchain innovators, pioneers, and enthusiasts from multiple industries to examine the new trends, businesses, and ideas in the blockchain space and how they will revolutionize the future. In this post, I will be sharing some of the key insights from the conference with a focus on mass adoption, cryptocurrency, consolidation of the industry, and the importance of regulations required to set a foundation for the future of blockchain.
Blockchain is one of the most overhyped and misunderstood topics today. The players in this space have yet to find a way to communicate the technology’s functionality and usability in a way that is widely understood. However, regardless of the lack of understanding, one thing that most people can agree on is that blockchain will entirely transform the future of businesses and financial inclusion. The foundation that blockchain provides empowers individuals with integrity, transparency and authenticity that can be transferred to businesses around the world.
How User Experience Impacts Mass Adoption
A common topic many of the panelists and speakers discussed was the limitations of mass adoption. Mass adoption will be dependent on the user experiences across blockchain offerings. The more the user experience is simplified, the more volume businesses will see and therefore result in greater mass adoption. More specifically, blockchain’s adoption has two main hurdles to overcome: user trust and knowledge of the technology. Technology can be easily compromised to access different environments and hack individual’s information. The fundamental component of blockchain technology removes the need for a centralized authority and solves this security problem, which is something we’ve never seen before. We will be able to digitally track and trace every transaction with full control and supervision of our own assets. However, some individuals find this daunting and are skeptical of the security, much preferring to have the comfort of some form of trusted intermediary. This brings into question the role different organizations will play in the future, especially an organization like Interac that has been a long-standing centralized body and trusted entity enabling individuals to make secure payments. The ambiguity and potential for this technology in the future is why organizations such as Interac are exploring ways in which they can incorporate blockchain.
The Irony of Exchanges
When it comes to cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin or Ethereum, some speakers spoke to the irony of exchanges: we’ve create a decentralized economy trading on a centralized exchange system. As this system becomes more decentralized in the future, its success will require a focus on regulation. Regulation will be brought to the forefront as the blockchain and cryptocurrency communities grow. The safest, fastest and least-intrusive mechanisms of decentralized exchanges are what consumers will be expecting to see in the future. Preempting regulations will be crucial in making the industry a stronger asset class than it already is.
In addition to preempting and adapting to regulations, businesses will need an open line of communication and an increase in partnerships as the system begins to consolidate. Collaboration is the way forward considering how minute blockchain and cryptocurrency is in comparison to other spaces. Creating a marriage between traditional finance regulators and capital finance players will allow us to blend with regulations and build future proof markets with financial inclusion.
Incentives and Driving Innovation
Another topic of interest panelists spoke to was how crucial it is for blockchain companies to have an incentive structure, which incorporates the fundamentals of social capitalism and successful entrepreneurship. We’re living in a phase of social capitalism where it’s becoming more common to be profitable while simultaneously having a mission and making a positive impact on society. Using blockchain for social impact requires comprehensive networks with as many players, innovators, and governments as possible to build interoperable systems. Therefore, incentive structures and partnerships between players in the space will help drive innovation for businesses.
As one speaker said, if the life cycle of technology is an S curve, Blockchain is beginning to move out of the early adopter phase and move towards its plateau. We’re beginning to see an improvement and discovery of best practices moving forward coupled with a consolidation of the ecosystem. It’s difficult to pin point exactly where this technology will take us in the future, but we do know that blockchain isn’t the end all and be all. New technologies are already emerging as extensions of the blockchain technology, which is a representation of the pace in which innovators in this space are moving.
Having now spent over two and a half months on the mobile team at Interac, I have gained a deeper understanding of the payments space and its innovative nature. Gaining exposure to the blockchain ecosystem allowed me to connect my learnings in payments to the ways in which technological innovation can and will fundamentally change the future of many industries. My experience this summer has absolutely sparked my interest in these areas and I hope to continue developing my understanding of them.