From smart contracts to establishing more trust, blockchain could chance how you do business in the future
The power of blockchain – a digitised, decentralised, public ledger of all cryptocurrency transactions – is yet to be truly unlocked. Why? Because at this point in time we’re only scratching the surface of something that has the potential to offer a huge array of future benefits to small and medium-sized businesses across the UK. Even though the barriers of entry may still seem pretty high, due to the current lack of blockchain developers, once the technology is firmly in place the advantages of using blockchain technology will prove reliable, scalable, transparent and, importantly, secure.
Whether we’re referring to using external tools based on a public blockchain or building a private blockchain, the technology itself offers a lot of distinct advantages. With blockchain, many people can write entries into a record of information and a community of users can control how the record of information is amended and updated. In other words, not one single person controls the information. Due to its decentralisation there is also no single point of failure.
Smart contracts will redefine business
One of the most attractive features that blockchain has is the potential to offer SMEs smart contracts, which not only define the terms and penalties around an agreement in the same way that traditional contracts do but also automatically execute and enforce those pre-agreed terms and conditions. Essentially, smart contracts will help people to exchange cash, sell property and shares or indeed anything of value in a transparent way that not only avoids conflict but also removes the service of middlemen.
However, the truth is, the mass adoption of blockchain has not yet started. Despite its exponential growth, the number of blockchain developers is still fairly low and in contrast the rates are fairly high. Blockchains also have their issues but they are undeniably quicker, cheaper and more secure than many traditional systems out there, which is why banks and also governments are now starting to sit up and take notice of them. Still, widespread adoption will take time. This is arguably a similar scenario to that of 12 years ago when the very first iPhone was released by Apple. It was only then that widespread app development really started to bloom and take off. Right now, we are entering the era of dApps – or decentralised applications – and many old-school developers out there still don't understand the transition that blockchain is about to make.
A greenfield of possibility
Blockchain is a greenfield for innovation in pretty much every sector of our life as we know it: from banking, healthcare, energy and education to entertainment, communication, logistics, democracy, ecommerce, security and much more. In less than ten years it is realistic to anticipate that at least 50% of all mainstream brands will have started using smart contracts and other technological advances that will come with the rise of blockchain.
Blockchain will come as a wave for small business, enabling creativity of individuals and allowing us to run businesses that so far have been reserved for corporate giants and larger organisations. Because most blockchain technologies are open-source it is also conceivable that a whole generation of young, new entrepreneurs will transform the various traditional services we currently use on daily basis, as well as invent new future solutions that will be embraced and adopted as standard.
Redefinition of trust
Embracing blockchain does, however, involve a redefinition of trust but it’s a huge advantage. With the growth of smart contracts we'll be able to move into trustless or trust free businesses where trust will be taken for granted. This will in turn, boost many economies especially those that are most corrupt.
Blockchain is the future and the possibilities are endless. We are also witnessing a new kind of business model coming to the fore thanks to the power of artificial intelligence known as machine-to-machine where smart or internet of things devices will be able to transact with one another without human interaction. We've got some truly amazing times ahead as small businesses and the potential to grow and innovate has never been greater.