In the last couple of years, we have seen a massive increase in interest regarding the underlying of technology digital currencies, blockchain, within the corporate world. Much has been written about the research currently underway across the globe by large multinational organizations looking to take advantage of the efficiency savings blockchain technology has the potential to bring. Will this research result in improvements within the wider cryptocurrency industry, or are we seeing the compartmentalization of the industry that could ultimately cause harm?
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One of the defining characteristics of the last twelve to twenty-four months has been the amount of large multinational corporations investing huge amounts of money and time into research with blockchain technology. Much of this research is focused on the application of blockchain within the business or government environment to create a more efficient way of operating varying processes, everything from financial transfers to government data storage has been looked at.
There is no doubt that this influx of funding and interest brings positive engagement with a wider audience that really benefits the industry as a whole, indeed global brands embracing blockchain has without doubt help legitimize the concept of digital currency for many, and Bitcoin has benefitted from that with an increased user base. However, there are also aspects of this involvement that could change what blockchain becomes in the future, and that is a direction that may not help cryptocurrency quite so much.
As with all large corporations, they want control over their systems and processes, as such the current development of blockchain is largely focusses on creating proprietary systems that operate only within their control. Here’s the thing, just how distributed can a ledger be if it is entirely contained within a proprietary system operating on a limited number of internal servers? That does not mean that they will not see the benefits of efficiency that the technology can bring, but as an inherent closed system, this is an avenue that will ultimately never benefit a wider audience. The true change that cryptocurrency and blockchain brought has been the decentralized, peer-to-peer organization itself. Current research is in danger of stripping those aspects away.
The two ideas of the future of blockchain can of course operate in tandem easily, and the more corporate focused research need not stop further development in the wider industry, but it is important to ensure that innovation is maintained through all aspects of digital currency and blockchain. Corporate involvement will help the cryptocurrency industry with awareness and may help attract extra funding, but it won’t replace research for digital currencies themselves.