When blockchain technology first entered mainstream as the supporting tech for Bitcoin, it was barely noticed. The vast majority of the public had little experience with it, and the complex programming associated with understanding and using blockchain technology kept people out of the marketplace. The learning curve was just too high.
However, as mainstream acceptance of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has begun to grow, so has acceptance of the blockchain concept they’re built on. Blockchain technology is starting to be used in many different applications, from messaging to storage. In an era where transparency and security are both valued at a premium, blockchain represents a system where transactions and contracts can be both transparent and completely secure at the same time.
While the learning curve was once steep, new companies are coming into the marketplace, disrupting traditional methods, and creating new user-friendly applications for blockchain. These user-friendly blockchain platforms are making inroads into spaces that have been governed by enterprise-level corporations and may change our everyday routines in big ways.
Blockchain and Messaging
Messaging applications are everywhere. iMessage, Whatsapp, Viber, WeChat, Hike, etc. Recent predictions indicate that as many as 2.2 billion people will access and use messaging apps this year alone.
This kind of massive use has created a sort of frenzy in the marketplace, with many new apps coming online. Traditional apps are facing some stiff competition with these new startups, as the new companies offer superior privacy and security, as well as added features.
One such company, Obsidian, has created its own blockchain platform and has built an application called Obsidian Secure Messaging (OSM). This app boasts some of the most secure information transfer ability in the world.
Users who want to share information or documents with 100% certainty of privacy and security are OSM’s target demographics. While other messenger apps (like Telegram) have been in the news for breaches of privacy and security, OSM has created a blockchain-backed system that ensures only the intended user is able to view content, and even the platform itself cannot view the messages. Additionally, OSM allows users to make payments to each other via its own internal cryptocurrency (ODN), providing a fully secure, anonymous, and private payment method as well.
The company is currently conducting an ICO, and aims to continue to develop the platform. It may be that in a short time, all our messaging will flow through blockchain-based apps like OSM, where security and privacy are assured through the auditable blockchain code.
Blockchain and Social Media
Social media is also undergoing a major overhaul – news of privacy and security issues have driven users away from traditional models. Furthermore, social media networks currently sell user data to advertisers for profit, and make it very difficult for creators to monetize their content apart from ad sales.
These issues have led to new social media solutions coming out of the blockchain world. Alongside the already-known Steemit, one company, onG.social, has emerged as a competitor. They have created a social media platform where users are able to upload and share content on a distributed blockchain network, protecting the value of user-created content.
Other users are able to digitally tip creators of content they like. The network also allows users to link to external centralized social media feeds, providing protection for the data on the decentralized platform while still providing freedom of access. As is the nature of blockchain technology, onG.social doesn’t sell or leverage user data because the entire platform is decentralized in its management. There is not central hub to take profits or leverage users with advertisers.
Just like messaging, a day may come when social media will be directed to users via blockchain-based portals where security and privacy are paramount. This scenario may well overtake the whole social media world, given its usability and simplicity.
Blockchain and Energy
The power of blockchain is also being used in the energy field. For example, one company, LO3, has created a blockchain-based sustainable energy grid for Brooklyn.
The system, a community-based micro gird, allows local communities within Brooklyn to create, share, and consume energy in a transparent and secure way. Blockchain technology allows the grid to decentralize and manage energy for times of power outage or for monetization for the good of the community.
Furthermore, companies like LO3 are building new and intriguing ways to employ local workers. Since the blockchain creates a distributed system, management of the electrical resource producers and maintenance of the system are required, driving jobs back into the local communities. You can read more about LO3 and collaborations between blockchain and energy here.
Coupled with the IoT, and the connectedness of individual users, the blockchain is creating distributed systems for energy control. These systems are far more efficient and may someday be in every home helping to reduce waste and normalize usage.
Blockchain and the Workplace
Blockchain technology is also creating new and intriguing ways to share data securely in the workspace. New companies like the fast growing Storj have created blockchain systems where users are able to store and manage data securely.
The advantage of such a system is obvious. Decentralized storage solutions removes the central point of failure that storage solutions today have, is far more affordable through the use of smart peer-to-peer storage and is completely open source and publicly auditable through the blockchain technology powering it.
The system is designed to allow an ecosystem, or a blockchain marketplace to grow and thrive. “Renters” within storage can sell their extra unused storage to others in a competitive decentralized storage marketplace. You can read more about Storj in the context of the power of decentralization here.
The advantages are obvious, and systems such as these are growing in number every day. It may well be that the face of business storage and security will forever change through the blockchain.
Looking over the tech landscape, blockchain will be to this generation what the internet was to the previous generation. Everything is going to change, user friendliness will increase, and systems that refuse to change and adopt the technology may well be left behind.