Hello Readers, welcome to this week’s #TechMondaysWithOmoJava, I do hope you had a great weekend. Moving ahead from the discussion we had last week about the Value and Wins of the Blockchain technology, we will (for this week) be looking at the Technology, the hindrances to the Adoption of this Technology and the Risk that surrounds its non-adoption – this is the Part II.
The next wave of change that is coming our way is the Blockchain! Last week, I said we are just in the opening scene, we no fit watch am finish, na season film e be. In today’s space, no matter the industry or department you work in, technology has a central role. This means that who wins and who doesn’t is increasingly determined by the speed at which a company and/or an individual understands, adopts and get used to new technologies. Hello World, the pressure is on! Just like the internet, Blockchain will change the balance power; there will be a radical shift! Over time, Blockchain will reshape the world and change what is possible.
There is a lot of hype about what Blockchain is; it is hard to know what it is, if it is real and how it is going to impact on our future. I will make the hard things simple. I will tell you the new tools that Blockchain offers, explain what you will be able to do with them and how they can impact us over time. We are living in a trust crisis, Blockchains are here to help. Technology has made it easier to create fake things and represent things that are not, (like when some Twitter and IG photos are photoshopped) so it becomes very difficult to know what is real in the digital world, but in our physical world, it is easier.
“Hey, give me that $50” – I just told someone here and he gave it to me, so it is physically obvious that the $50 has be given to me. But we have a problem of double spending in digital transactions; imaging you have $100 left in your account and you placed a transaction (say buy music on iTunes) and you didn’t get a debit alert instantly and then you try to do the monthly YouTube subscription with the same $100 (because it is still in your account), but with Blockchain, aa unique identifier will be created (for each device) and each of the components go to the ledger – the Blockchain – and the identifier will be tracked to know when someone tries to duplicate a particular transaction and anyone with the Blockchain community can authenticate the asset of any transaction. For instance, it is difficult for healthcare organizations around the world to know if incoming shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine are real even (when medicine are in high demand, we see situations of theft, sub-standard products, stolen and even the introduction of expired drugs into the supply chain), the pharmaceutical industry can use the Blockchain technology to ensure that everyone gets the COVID-19 vaccine that are real, so a hospital or pharmacy by using a browser and the Bar Code Scanner (BCR) can ensure that the vaccines are real, they have not been duplicated or reported as stolen before putting on the shelf or before administering. With Blockchain technology, it takes a fraction of a second! So if there’s any industry where fakes and forgery creates a problem, Blockchain is the Solution.
Today’s consumers ask tough questions like we want to know who made these products, we want to know where these good came from, we want to know what’s inside the shipment, we want to know if the shipment satisfies our local consumption policy (especially when it comes to ingredients and production capacities). OK guys, so Blockchain can make you verify all these things as they move to every step of the supply chain. How, it helps us verify the identity of each component or person or organization involved through the process and this identity and how it interacts with other identities can be tracked through the entire lifetime of the goods; we can see the source and tracked every time it crosses a border. Also, Blockchain can help us track the conditions under which a product moves as it travels over the supply chain. Blockchains can work with strategically placed sensors to send the recording date to the Blockchain and have all records along the journey. It will be something like all-seeing and all-thinking! Like for example, some equipment for shipment may be sensitive to humidity, vibration, weight etc. just like the COVID-19 vaccine is sensitive to temperature, with Blockchain, you can track all these records to know where a failure point has occurred. So you can use Blockchain to determine where things come from, where they have been and how they have been
You need to be able to share data without loosing ownership or control of it. Say you want to go into a night club that wants to be sure you are above 21 years. In this case you hand over your government ID that may have your full name, mobile, age, blood group, residence, next of kin, etc. Using Blockchain, all the information can be stored in government database and you will have a digital key for each component. So that guy at the entrance would only need the verified digital key to your age as contained in the government database. When you hand over your ID to that guy, you don’t determine or control how it is being used without turning in a legal agreement. With Blockchain, you keep a personal Data Vault! So you will use your Data how you want to use it and when you want to use it with losing any Data.
Okay, so let’s talk about some the limiting factor to the adoption of the Blockchain technology.
Blockchain has Image Problem, Blockchain is too much linked with cryptocurrencies in the mind of many. Especially crypto that has a negative image that is surrounded by fraudsters, hackers that are using the technology for criminal activities. This bad name is reflecting on the Blockchain technology system as whole and is making people seriously think twice before adopting it. Before the general adoption is possible, members of the public must understand the difference between bitcoins, other crypto-currencies, and Blockchain. One should understand that cryptocurrencies are only one application of Blockchain technology amongst many others. This will help to eliminate the sometimes negative implications and may result in an increased willingness to use the technology.
Blockchain is Disruptive, Corporates are afraid of the disruptive character of Blockchain. There are organizations that do not like the idea of Blockchain and its disruptive character. For some, it is a nightmare thinking they will lose market share or will even become obsolete. Blockchain is about 80% business process change and 20% technology implementation. It represents a total shift away from the traditional ways of doing things. This even goes for industries that have already seen significant transformation from digital technologies. It places trust and authority in a decentralized network rather than in a powerful central institution. And for some, this loss of control can be deeply unsettling. It is still uncertain who will be most affected by Blockchain implementations and which areas of the business are likely to be most disrupted. A more ‘imaginative’ approach is needed to understand opportunities that this technology presents and also how things will change.
One major technology challenge of Blockchain is related to the technical scalability of the network which can put a strain on the adoption process, especially for public Blockchains. Normal transactional networks are known for their ability to process thousands of transactions per second. Visa, for example, is capable of processing more than 2000 transactions per second. The two largest Blockchain networks, Bitcoin and Ethereum however are far behind when it comes to transaction speeds. While the Bitcoin Blockchain can process 3 to 7 transactions per second, Ethereum can handle approximately 20 transactions in a second. There are some interesting solutions upcoming to tackle the scalability issue, an example is the Lightning Network, which consists of adding a second layer to the main Blockchain network in order to facilitate faster transactions.
So this may be a little bit technical but I will try to simplify it. I call it Interoperability. A Blockchain-based supply chain management application, for example, would constantly need to get external data from a third-party application that may not be as “safe” as the Blockchain application. So the security, privacy and incorruptibility of a Blockchain application ends the moments it connects to a legacy database or otherwise gets new data from external sources. The solution to this is to have a comprehensive interoperability standard enforced on all involved parties that will be connected to or part of a Blockchain application.
There are other limiting factors such as lack of awareness, security, insufficient Blockchain developers etc. but let’s move on to the risk that surrounds the non-adoption.
When I was in secondary school, my results and testimonial were prepared with a typewriter. Some years later, we go to the premises of the court to prepare affidavits and summons for court processes prepared with the typewriter. The Microsoft Vision (one Windows computer in each home) changed everything, now you can prepare those documents on your machine and go directly into the court registry to get it stamped. Those using the “typewriter technology” were dispersed, left behind and pushed out of business, especially those that refused to move with the trend. I could also remember that Microsoft Inc. was almost “pushed” out of business when they first “rejected” the Power of the Internet.
See, there are evolutionary and revolutionary technologies. Some things will radically alter the way we talk, think, walk, move, do business, govern, speak, learn, write, drive and even fall in love! They turn things upside down – and if used appropriately – for the best. Welcome to the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) within which the Blockchain is taking the lead in the digital space.
Guys, Blockchain is a revolutionary technology, it is disruptive, latch on to it! Don’t sleep on it, if you do, you are on a long thing!
Next week, before we move to another 4IR technology – The Cloud – I will talk about why Blockchain matter to businesses.
© 2021. Olufemi Ogunye. He tweets using the handle @IAmOmoJava