I’ve been seeing a lot of posts/questions about the actual use cases for the industry outside of crypto-bro speculation, idiot monkey jpegs, greater fool theory, climate destroying PoW, and scummy scammer shit that slide into our dms constantly.
I feel that, so I wanted to write out what I’m observing, maybe that can give perspective to some.
These are the use cases that have kept me interested in the fundamental promises of the tech.
1. There’s been much ado about the digital currency thing. It isn’t about it being online because of course we’ve had that for a long time, it’s about not needing a third party like a gov/bank/payment processing company to adjudicate the money supply or money transfers. This seems to be more useful for third world or unstable gov situations where wealth in banks can be seized, gold can be stolen, and fiat currency can be rendered useless because the minting gov collapsed.
2 . “the world’s computer” — ethereum’s original promise. Like AWS, but decentralized, so a globally distributed network of servers for applications to run on top of, but no single point of failure (think Dyn hack that took down AWS East a few years back). There’s a long way to go to fulfill this promise with blockchain, obvi, but this is the one I’m most excited for personally.
3. immutable/automated record keeping– think medical records, academic transcripts, ID systems. Again, probs best for countries/situations where institutional stability leaves something to be desired or where cross-border authenticity is in question.
4. new business models for the service economy that distribute value and ownership. Imagine a netflix that instead of you paying them 10,20,30 dollars every month, they give you a netflix token for every hour of show you watch. And you can use that token to vote on what shows get renewed for another season and who’s going to star in the next GoT or whatever. There would be a group of people that watch a lot of netflix and get tokens, a second group of people that don’t want to watch that much netflix but DO want to vote on which shows get renewed so maybe they go buy some tokens from the first group, and a third group of people that aren’t interested in netflix at all but know that there is enough of the first two groups of people and so buy tokens on spec, and boom you have a whole micro-economy built up with its own liquidity to do stuff like make TV shows. Weird example, but maybe fun ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
5. Smart contracts/ automated if-this-then-that type agreements that can’t be turned off. I’m still wrapping my head around this one, and again this promise I think has years to go, but the ability for code to behave as a trusted escrow account to facilitate transfers of value based on conditions being met is juicy for lots of industries.
Most major innovations take about 30 years/1 generation to get full adoption– cars and internet come to mind. In that framework, we’re in the 2nd of 3 chapters of the 30 year process of adopting new technologies, pretty much the late 90s early aughts for the internet. By 2030, the fluff will have bled out, and I think there will be unassailable use-cases that are adopted by large numbers of people. And not necessarily with their explicit knowledge– tech is adopted when it disappears into the background of our lives. My mom/dad will never understand blockchain or crypto, but I’d wager that by 2030 many services they use will utilize blockchains to deliver value, and by 2040 we won’t even be able to remember the world as it was before.
Good luck out there everyone