Just returning from a blockchain workshop in London, where I worked with a number of incredible people to consider solutions to some of the pressing regulatory issues impacting the blockchain technology. While considering these issues I wondered if Bitcoin had gained popularity solely as a protocol and not as a currency, would it have evolved faster and more readily. The almost instantaneous (compared to current standards) transfer of value across the globe would be just one component of the potential possibilities for the technology as recognized by the mainstream public. A secure ledger of property ownership, notarization, recordation of wills and trusts, claims for corporate names and intellectual property – all would be pursued at a much faster, or perhaps more public, pace. Currently, progressive financial institutions have announced their active experiments with the technology, while others quietly research the potential use cases.
The opportunities for developing a cryptographic, distributed, public ledger are endless, rendering predictions for the future, even 5 years from now, difficult. What is clear is that the way we conduct financial transactions will be forever altered – for the better. Payments and payment systems will be more efficient, secure, faster, and less expensive for all in the ecosystem and will also lead to financial inclusion. Government regulation – while antithetical to the original thesis of the Bitcoin protocol – is a necessary component of the “algorithm” as the protection of the public from acts of terrorism and other crimes is in everyone’s interest. So let’s work with it, think creatively about it, and help prepare the protocol, governments and the public for the next 5 years.