Are We at a Tipping Point for Blockchain?

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / puhimecIs blockchain reaching a tipping point? I’m not talking about the public, but among the early adapters who set the tone for what comes one or two years down the line.

A little evidence: A Juniper Research study reveals that venture capitalists have poured $290 million into blockchain technologies and bitcoin companies in the first half of 2016.  Three companies accounted for about one-third of the funds — Circle, a peer-to-peer payments company; Blockstream, a “sidechain” developer, and Digital Asset Holdings, a solutions provider for distributed ledger solutions.

Three companies — all focused more on how blockchain can crack open a very wide number of uses beyond bitcoin.

Next: The World Economic Forum recently published its own report on how blockchain the the distributed ledger technology (DLT) will affect financial services. In a nutshell, it says the potential is huge. Equally important, the report is sober, cautioning that blockchain is not a panacea for all that ails financial services. Nonetheless, the WEF notes the distributed ledger is emerging as a key player in modernizing the sector:

  • 80% of banks are likely to initiate DLT projects in 2017
  • More than 90 corporations have joined blockchain consortia
  • More than 90 central banks are engaged in blockchain discussions
  • 24 countries are engaged in blockchain discussions
  • More than $1.4 billion has been invested in the research over the past 3 years

Meanwhile, as Bank Innovation reported earlier, Credit Suisse penned an exhaustive report on the potential for blockchain, citing a wide range of uses, particularly in back office and processing.  Major financial institutions are working separately and in concert to find applications: R3, a consortium of more than 50 financial institutions is working on applying blockchain to financial services. Last month it announced a new undertaking that would “master templates for smart contracts, the self-executing contractual agreements used to trade, record and manage assets on distributed and shared ledger platforms, and how they could be implemented within existing legal and regulatory frameworks.”

And then there’s the U.K. government just hired Credits to provide blockchain-as-a-service for vendors in its digital marketplace.

If you go to Google trends, bitcoin still outnumbers blockchain searched 10-to-1. But if the past is any guide, B2B sets the tone for what is next to come. Watch to see over the next two years how that ratio is likely to shift.

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