Predicting the development of any technology within 12 years is difficult, but for blockchain, it’s pretty much a lifetime.
That task was handed to a panel at Blockchain Expo Europe, made up of experts applying the technology across a range of disciplines, including smart contracts, eSports, cybersecurity, and even genetics, who were asked to make their predictions for the technology’s development by 2030.
And that differing expertise across the panel was apt, given that a decisive direction for blockchain technology over the course of the next 10 years or so remained, as you might expect, somewhat uncertain.
While disagreement was rife, one point standing out was that of industry consolidation, with just a few players expected to dominate in the long run, much as we’ve seen with the likes of ad tech giants Facebook and Google.
“What we’re seeing in the industry is not new, look at the dotcom boom, for example. We have a load of companies diving in, but we’ll see huge consolidation,” commented Luke Lombe, ICO advisor at PlayChip.
Lombe added that he’d be “surprised” if 3% of current ICOs survive the next 12 months, but that those few that prosper could be “trillion-dollar” leaders.
“We’ll see super phoenixes rising from the ashes, and they’ll be super shakers.”
A volatile market
The challenge this poses right now, however, is that it’s difficult to choose projects, invest, or work with platforms without knowing whether they’ll still be operating next week, let alone in 12 year’s time.
Much of the reason the market is so crowded – and more significantly, volatile – at present, is that the ‘blockchain’ label remains, in many cases, a novel selling-point.
“I look forward to a time when the buzzword falls away,” said Galen Moore, head of new business intelligence at New Alchemy; “What the hell does blockchain business mean? You don’t say you’re an internet business.”
That less focus should be pushed on marketing blockchain itself, and more be placed on actual end-capability was concurrent throughout the discussion.
Asked how we’ll see wide consumer adoption with such complex technology, the consensus was that the average user won’t need to understand it.
“People don’t understand how email works,” Lombe pointed out; “they just need to know they’re going to get there quickly.
“It doesn’t have to be so visible; a platform doesn’t need an obvious blockchain interface – what it needs is to be as frictionless as possible.”
Currently it’s central banks, in particular, that are leading adoption, but CEO of MyWish, Vladimir Tikhomirov, believes it will fall to the “common people” to drive its future.
“The main point for growing blockchain is based on the common people, not corporations,” said Tikhomirov.
“There are no convenient ways to managing money or funds, we believe it’s critical for blockchain development to add some services.”
In a way that chimes of companies such as Uber, it’s expected that those willing to take a risk and technological jump with service-based products are those likely to cause the most disruption in the long run – not so much the behemoths, think Danish shipping giant Maersk, who are using blockchain for steady “incremental improvements”.
If and when blockchain technology does take hold of society at grand scale, added Lombe, it will be “all-pervasive”; “Every touch point will be tokenised at some point – they’ll even be a ledger attached to putting your rubbish out.”
Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person? Find out more at the Blockchain Expo World Series, Global, Europe and North America.