Blockchain ≠ bitcoin

Monday 29 February 2016

Bitcoin is a protocol, not a currency. Internet cash is just one of many diverse applications.

If you keep your finger remotely near the pulse of bitcoin news, you’ll have noticed that some big players are starting to take an interest. The theme of almost all of these companies, though, is that bitcoin per se is not the object of their attention. That’s hardly surprising, for various reasons. Instead, it’s the underpinning technology that’s proving so attractive.

Bitcoin is not ultimately about moving money around. Bitcoins are not exactly cash; they are strings of characters that represent money but could equally represent just about anything else. In fact, it’s already possible to do more with bitcoin than make and receive payments. Other platforms, particularly 2.0 coins, make these applications far easier, and that’s exactly what we’re going to see in the coming months and years.

Bitcoin maximalists will tell you that bitcoin is the best vehicle for all of these, and that new applications can and will be built on the bitcoin blockchain. A few will, no doubt, but it makes far more sense for new applications to be built on their own custom blockchains - ones that have faster blocktimes, or don’t rely on infrastructure-heavy proof-of-work, or simply that are not the object of political wranglings and can be developed at a less glacial pace.

Nuclear

Ledra suggests that nuclear launch codes might be secured on a blockchain. Hmmmmmm.

And what kinds of applications might be possible? Or put another way, what areas of life would benefit from a secure, immutable public ledger? Here is Ledra Capital’s big list of blockchain potential, reproduced in full:

I. Financial Instruments, Records and Models

  1. Currency
  2. Private equities
  3. Public equities
  4. Bonds
  5. Derivatives (futures, forwards, swaps, options and more complex variations)
  6. Voting rights associated with any of the above
  7. Commodities
  8. Spending records
  9. Trading records
  10. Mortgage / loan records
  11. Servicing records
  12. Crowd-funding
  13. Micro-finance
  14. Micro-charity

II. Public Records

  1. Land titles
  2. Vehicle registries
  3. Business license
  4. Business incorporation / dissolution records
  5. Business ownership records
  6. Regulatory records
  7. Criminal records
  8. Passports
  9. Birth certificates
  10. Death certificates
  11. Voter IDs
  12. Voting
  13. Health / Safety Inspections
  14. Building permits
  15. Gun permits
  16. Forensic evidence
  17. Court records
  18. Voting records
  19. Non-profit records
  20. Government/non-profit accounting/transparency

III. Private Records

  1. Contracts
  2. Signatures
  3. Wills
  4. Trusts
  5. Escrows
  6. GPS trails (personal)

IV. Other Semi-Public Records

  1. Degree
  2. Certifications
  3. Learning Outcomes
  4. Grades
  5. HR records (salary, performance reviews, accomplishment)
  6. Medical records
  7. Accounting records
  8. Business transaction records
  9. Genome data
  10. GPS trails (institutional)
  11. Delivery records
  12. Arbitration

V. Physical Asset Keys

  1. Home / apartment keys
  2. Vacation home / timeshare keys
  3. Hotel room keys
  4. Car keys
  5. Rental car keys
  6. Leased cars keys
  7. Locker keys
  8. Safety deposit box keys
  9. Package delivery (split key between delivery firm and receiver)
  10. Betting records
  11. Fantasy sports records

VI. Intangibles

  1. Coupons
  2. Vouchers
  3. Reservations (restaurants, hotels, queues, etc)
  4. Movie tickets
  5. Patents
  6. Copyrights
  7. Trademarks
  8. Software licenses
  9. Videogame licenses
  10. Music/movie/book licenses (DRM)
  11. Domain names
  12. Online identities
  13. Proof of authorship / Proof of prior art

VI. Other

  1. Documentary records (photos, audio, video)
  2. Data records (sports scores, temperature, etc)
  3. Sim Cards
  4. GPS network identity
  5. Gun unlock codes
  6. Weapons unlock codes
  7. Nuclear launch codes
  8. Spam control (micro-payments for posting)

That's just for starters. Over the coming months and years we're likely to see a lot of imaginative applications for this powerful technology.


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