When reporter Aly Mawji asked six-year-old Aaron Rogier—the CEO and founder of fake startup Napchat—what advice he would give his younger self in the Forbes parody video “10 Under 10 Influencers in Tech,” Rogier responded, “Drop out of school and buy more Bitcoins.”
Surprisingly enough, little Rogier’s amusing response doesn’t stray far from the truth. Starting out at a value of around $0.003, one Bitcoin is now worth 7,736.54 dollars, and this number only seems to be rising. And Bitcoin isn’t the only cryptocurrency that is rising in popularity. In the past few years, there has been a surge of blockchain-based technologies and startups, such as the famous trading site Blockchain.com and the social media web app Steem.it. But why is blockchain becoming so popular? To understand its current value and appeal, we must go back to the basics.
What Is Blockchain?
At its core, blockchain is exactly what it sounds like: a chain of blocks. Except rather than pieces of wood or metal, blocks are information stores that contain transaction information—such as price, buyer, seller, timestamp, etc.—all under a unique hash that differentiates that block from other blocks in the chain.
The chain in blockchain refers to the fact that blockchain is a distributed ledger. Blockchain users can choose to connect their computer to the blockchain network as a node, which allows them to receive copies of the blockchain on their local devices. However, blockchain still maintains privacy among its users; individual buyers and sellers cannot access other users’ transactions in the blocks on their node.
Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and STEEM operate on the blockchain in order for users to efficiently and securely trade tokens. The heart of any crypto system is blockchain technology, as blockchain provides the ledger and contracts on top of which cryptocurrencies thrive.
Applications Of Blockchain
The most obvious industry to benefit enormously from blockchain is the banking sector. Customer transactions—simply adding a block to the blockchain—can become fully automated, enabling rapid transaction processing and analysis. The time taken during stock trades and transaction settlement would be cut drastically, decreasing the length of time where money and shares are frozen.
In addition, an extremely significant application of blockchain is, surprisingly, healthcare. Transforming the electronic health record (EHR) into a blockchain-based record would allow private storage of patient data. This would also enable easier and faster storage of patient data; in rural, under-resourced areas as well as areas with high populations—especially refugee camps such as those in Athens and Kenya—many health providers are transitioning the EHR to online blockchain solutions in order to facilitate effective data storage.
Moreover, blockchain’s popularity is rising in the gaming sector. It allows players to easily and securely buy and trade in-game assets, contributes more revenue to game developers, decreases latency required with accessing player data securely, and provides computational sustainability and scalability, as smart contracts can be applied to games in a number of ways, the most significant being in-app purchases and potentially even mid-game purchases.
Crowdfunding and Social Good
One of the most important sectors that blockchain can revolutionize is the intersection between crowdfunding and social good. By providing a means for users to approve others’ posts on a forum by donating cryptocurrency to a certain post, blockchain incentivizes volunteers to take action on certain crowdfunded campaigns in order to receive the accumulated cryptocurrency associated with a given task.
Atix Labs, BitGive, and GiftCoin are some examples of startups entering the blockchain industry. Even small-scale startups are entering the blockchain movement to encourage crowdfunding-based social good; for instance, Centivize combines smart disease diagnosis with blockchain to assist patients who may be diagnosed with diseases less critical than COVID-19 but still in need of treatment.
Blockchain is getting geared up to disrupt many industries that have remained stagnant for a long time. In the realm of entrepreneurship, blockchain and decentralization are becoming buzz words that entrepreneurs found new startups and technologies on. In a world powered by massive amounts of data, the effective decentralized data storage systems and transaction ledgers that blockchain provides can revolutionize the way we live.