If you have any type of cryptocurrency portfolio, chances are there will be plenty of tears. Unless you got in early, happen to be a market manipulating whale, can day trade a whole lot better than the rest of us losers, there will be some regret. Still, don’t blame the blockchain.
Skeptics think cryptocurrency is somewhere between a criminal money laundering conspiracy and a scam, while blockchain is pure fantasy or a glorified Excel file. The reality is major strides are being made in the blockchain field, as illuminated in a recent conversation I had with Esmond Tong, vice president of Oracle’s Platform Cloud Specialists in the Asia Pacific.
At the heart of why blockchain is so effective is the issue of trust. “This is an exciting moment with the convergence of Blockchain, [artificial intelligence, Internet of Things] and other related technologies. The Bitcoin hype has really attracted attention to blockchain as a way to solve the age-old problem of trust within a network,” says Tong.
Oracle is expanding its work within blockchain at a rapid pace with several projects. CargoSmart, a global shipment management software solutions provider, is developing a blockchain solution for shipment documentation, while Hana Financial Group is building a global loyalty network on blockchain. There are plenty of other examples.
“Blockchain is a way for people to trace back who has changed what on a record and when, and deduce what impact that action has had. The fundamental advantage of this is that people can, through analyzing the chain, see the record in a clear and un-tampered manner, which they can verify on their own,” says Tong.
The technology can be applicable to the likes of food safety to banking, retail and logistics. In food safety, for example, blockchain can record the whole journey, from farmer to supermarket, and how those goods have been moved, preserved and transported.
But will people trust that blockchain is immune from manipulation? Oracle, which runs a blockchain cloud service, is putting its weight behind the technology. “As blockchain is now accessible to the general public on the cloud, they don’t have to totally understand the technology behind it, as long as they can visually be aware of what is happening. For the general public, Bitcoin has been an example of a working technology that gives people confidence in the system. If money can be changed digitally, then people will see that Blockchain can be confidently applied to other systems,” says Tong.
For many drawn to cryptocurrencies and blockchain, part of the appeal is building new systems from scratch, bypassing what they see as the antiquated and corrupted financial and government institutions.
Does Tong think that blockchain’s popularity reflects people losing faith in the old ways of doing things? “People are not losing confidence in institutions but they like to have control, and not having to count on other people or systems to get things done,” says Tong.
Indeed, if this is the case, developing sophisticated blockchain systems might present barriers of entry for the ordinary businessperson. For Tong, the important thing is the effectiveness of the cloud system. “On the cloud, it is affordable for everyone. People can use advanced technologies at an affordable cost and low barrier of entry, whether you are an individual, Fortune 500 company or a startup.”
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