Bitcoin is revolutionizing the financial industry by providing a new and transparent way of transferring value across the world relying on a decentralized peer-to-peer network rather than a centralized entity like a bank. However, other industries are also experimenting on using blockchain, the technology behind Bitcoin. Some of these industries are crowdfunding, the global supply chain industry, real estate industry, venture funding industry among others. Many corporations are experimenting with what is being termed as ‘enterprise blockchains’. They could be corporations, consortiums, protocols and startups working on blockchain based solutions. Hyperledger and Enterprise Ethereum Alliance are among the main ones in terms of consortium.
Major corporations such as IBM, Walmart are among many others that have been experimenting on enterprise blockchains for better part of the last 2 years. Streamlining supply chain process has been one of the main focus areas. Research shows that as many as 1500 employees are working in over 500 blockchain projects in IBM alone.
Despite a whole year slump in price of major cryptocurrencies in 2018, it seems like there are still developments in the space if you watch keenly.
Majority of these developments in the area of enterprise blockchains are being experiment on what could be a new wave of the internet, web 3.0. Basically Web 3.0 is about building a layer of internet of value. In simple terms, internet of value entails a layer of internet protocol that allows transfer of value that is inbuilt rather than as a by-product.This is seen as the inevitable direction the internet will take in its evolution after web 1.0. web 2.0 and web 3.0.
Web 1.0 Thought to be the first wave up until the late 1990s. It allowed for creation of simple static websites where you can read information but not do anything.
Web 2.0: the one we are using now. It has mainly been about publishing and sharing of information, powered highly by network effects. Main players have been social media companies such as Facebook and platform companies such as Uber etc. Billions of people use these platforms and the work of platforms is to aggregate the data and make meaning of it in order to create better user experiences. Niche communities have emerged and there is long tail of publishing: everyone can read, create content, share etc. However, new issues are emerging as to whether an individual user is entitled to the data they contribute, critique of advertising models etc.
Web 3.0: This is now what is is being hypothesized. It goes beyond just publishing to having a native mechanism of value transfer. However, the definitions of web 3.0 are still being expanded to encapsulate more than blockchain to be a more ‘intelligent web’ brought about by convergence of things like as artificial intelligence, internet of things among others.
If there is such mechanisms, then web 2.0 platforms can be advanced to have a way for user to also enjoy the value they create in terms of crypto tokens. Basically, the thesis around this is ‘ is it possible to send money/value across the world as easy as it to send an image on whatsapp? Bitcoin has ofcouse shown that the answer to this yes. With an inbuilt monetary system, that has robust peer-to-peer system to maintain the network and avoid double spending, it is possible. With that, the Pandora box was opened and a lot of startups started experimenting with more use cases.
Bitcoin first led to creation of companies around facilitating buying and sending of bitcoin. The prospects of doing more with blockchain is what has propelled Ethereum and ICO boom. Mainstream crypto companies such as coinbase have talked about this in-depth and has been their rationale in opening up their platform to more cryptotokens to list on their platform. As explained above, even existing companies are also riding on this thesis to see if its possible to create more value in other different domains in what has led to public versus private blockchains debate.
With talent and money still pouring in, it is interesting to see how these projects will proceed.