By David Drake
For the past two years, blockchain has experienced ups and downs and has not lived up to the expectations of some, especially in the value of cryptocurrencies. Despite this, in its evaluation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) expects blockchain to become the norm in 2019.
In its review, the institute argues this will happen because some of blockchain projects being developed are close to being operational. Several companies are also set to unveil their blockchain centered projects this year.
One of the reasons why MIT says blockchain will be normalized in 2019 is the fact that more companies are getting into and investing in the crypto business. Walmart, one of the largest retailers, has been carrying out tests on its blockchain-based supply tracker system and is set to begin using it. Likewise, there are plans by the owner of Intercontinental Exchange to launch an exchange for virtual assets. Similarly, to cater for large investors, Fidelity Investments created Fidelity Digital Assets to deal with hedge funds and wealth investors. Fidelity aims to solve the lack of regulated support structures by putting in place security measures to safeguard investors from fraudulent activities.
Legal Smart Contracts
The use of smart contracts to automatically execute legal tasks based arrangements made by two entities is likely to enhance blockchain application in the legal sector. Previously, the absence of dependable technology limited utilization of smart contracts. The entry of blockchain technology will ensure secure management of legal data.
One area where smart contracts are being applied in law, and where Chainlink has combined efforts with Openlaw project, is creation of legitimate agreements that are smart-contract centered. There is also an ongoing partnership with Rocket Lawyer where an online service allows users to develop their own law documents.
The aim is to enable users to identify their legal rights and expectations using smart contracts, and once satisfied, payments are to be made automatically using cryptocurrencies. The system is expected to be launched later this year and is considered simple enough to use, even for people who are not familiar with cryptocurrencies. Similar blockchain startups are set to launch in the coming months while some are in the testing phase.
Government-owned agencies and banks are beginning to consider developing state virtual currencies. The decline in cash usage globally and advancement of new technologies will change how payments are carried out.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF), in its support to government-based cryptocurrencies, has determined that government-owned digital currencies would be used by more people because of extra security, privacy measures, and consumer protection compared to those owned by private entities.
According to William Davis, Managing Director at LDJ Capital, focusing on data collection, rather than technology, will help identify customer preferences and areas of improvement in retail shopping.
He says, “Perhaps more important than the technology is the culture of transparency, immutability and personal data ownership which will create opportunities for option retail shopping with targeted marketing that is content rich and requested as opposed to intrusive and very often not desired. Pattern recognition from anonymized data will bring quick insights with real time pattern recognition of product launches, sales growth and failures.”
Disclaimer: David Drake is on the advisory board for most of the firms mentioned or quoted in this article.