The BlockChain has an identity crisis. Brushing aside the in-fighting that has reared its ugly head over the past few days within the Bitcoin/BlockChain community, with toys being thrown out of prams on all sides with fervent gusto, there are far more subtle forces at work that will hinder the BlockChain’s adoption into the mainstream; and that is its depth and width ; resulting in its innate power for change for… almost everything.
Understandably BlockcChain is dominating the financial media currently. With close to a $1bn dollars of Venture Capital money having been poured into the sector and many global finance institutions setting up funds and accelerators trying to tempt Fintech startups, the media sees the groundswell of financial opinion building; the rising start-ups disrupting old models and the apocalyptic end of banking as we know it – well this is the concept that sells newspapers, views and advertising. Whilst the finance and banking sector are undoubtedly facing a dramatic financial tsunami, other segments and sectors of the global economy are being dramatically being affected as well :
- Late last month, Tunisia announced it was going to transfer its national currency on to the BlockChain
- The Estonian government is working on registering births, deaths and marriages on the BlockChain.
- Diamonds are having their provenance confirmed,
- Property titles being registered in Latin America and
- The provenance of digital artworks is being established.
These use cases are just the very tip of the titanic portioned iceberg outside the financial sector. The power of the BlockChain is ubiquitous – and that is its strength; but its also its problem.
The media as a whole thrives on easy sound-bites, poetic sound-bites, that their readership can understand quickly and easily; that they can latch on to. The growing use cases make it easier for a general audience to understand a very complex technology.
BlockChain technology is so complex it is very hard to summarise exactly what it does in five words or less. When I was chatting with other delegates at the recent BockChain Workshop conference in Sydney, close by I would hear those that were new to the BlockChain ask the question “what exactly is BlockChain?”
The question was followed by a polite silence; a deep inhalation; a last passioned and longing gaze at the vol-au-vents getting cold; and the respondent’s eyes almost rolling back in preparation for what was going to be a long and detailed explanation to the uninitiated. Five words were not on the agenda.
Equally, because BlockChain is the relatively new kid on the technological block, it has tended to be in the domain of technologists. Whilst the geeks may indeed inherit the earth, when it comes to expressing themselves, marketing has never been their strength. Different descriptions of BlockChain are banded about ;
- decentralised ledger technology;
- peer to peer money;
- cryto 2.0,
- permissionless distributed database
to name but a few. These are all great examples – but none of them has that “je ne sais quoi” to gives the media that sizzle; that bazzaz; to bolster the BlockChain “branding” to help guide it on its long road to the mainstream. So, perhaps we can learn something from history.
Back in the early days of the internet in the early 1990’s the same problem happened. Other than the geek community no one really got excited by TCP/IP, http or html but as soon as someone mentioned The Information Superhighway, the media got it; everyone got it.
It was actually first attributed to a quote from Al Gore in 1993 when he was promoting “the new technology out or of the National Research and Education Network (NREN) as the information super highway”. It came into general use in the mid to late 1990’s as the internet headed towards the mainstream; with the media latching on to this concept; it was easy; its was simple; it was poetic.
To date, BlockChain has had no real traction in its branding, the descriptions to date have tended to summarise what the technology “is”, rather what the technology “does”. Now whilst Banking 2.0, might be a more appropriate descriptor than distrbuted ledger technology which seems to be the current favourite, the BlockChain has so much more to offer than just the finance sector.
To bankers, the eradication of $20bn of infrastructural costs annually has substantial appeal, but BlockChain has far greater reach than that. The BlockChain is not just the internet of value; it is also internet of ownership. The technology also has the power to create, and open up new markets that haven’t existed before; to enable digital artists to have provenance on their works; to look at the removal of identity theft; to give developing nations access to fair and equitable elections. The technology has so much depth and so much width in its applicability and has way more to offer beyond the finance sector.
Undoubtedly the identity issue will continue as the BlockChain technology evolves, so I would like to put a challenge out there to help it on its way.
The challenge is this :
Summarise BlockChain 5 words or less – but no technology words allowed.
Just put your summary int he comments below. You might not win any prizes but you might just help bring BlockChain into the mainstream, where it truly belongs.
(For those of you that would like to understand more about the BlockChain, its power and what it can do, we have created a suite of down-to-earth workshops that will guide you – to look beneath the hype; to look at how it works and what is can do for you and your organisation. Go to Veredictum.io for more details.
STOP PRESS: This Friday (29 January at 11am AEDT) we are producing available a FREE 1 hour webinar (limited to the first 25 people that register). For more details click here for more details )
If you are interested in understanding more about the Blockchain, its power and its challenges, why not check out my new book Down The Rabbit Hole, a book for business & non-technical people, like you, to truly understand the Blockchain & to capitalize on its power. Its available on :