If you listen to the tech experts, then we’re in the middle of a blockchain revolution. The technology behind the often misunderstood currency, Bitcoin, blockchain is currently being adopted by a variety of industries.
Without delving too deep into its specifics, blockchain is basically a way of validating transactions without the need for human authorisation. Each time a Bitcoin payment is sent a specific address, it needs to be verified by a network of computers. Once the payment is verified, its details are stored in a block of valid transactions and this block is then uploaded to the network of the computer holding the blockchain.
Breaking Down the Blockchain
Essentially, a blockchain is a record of every Bitcoin transaction, in much the same way a bank uses a ledger to track payments across accounts. However, because this system is updated every 10 minutes and stored on network of computers, it means that each transaction is highly secure.
Although somewhat complex for the general public to really appreciate, the tech experts in the banking world, healthcare profession and security industry are all starting to use this technology to enhance their services. Indeed, according to a recent report by the Financial Times, blockchain looks set to “disrupt” the way the fund industry currently operates.
With blockchain gaining in popularity, many experts, including the Digital Current Group’s Barry Silbert, have suggested that this revolution could help to make Bitcoin a mainstream product. Back when the cryptocurrency first went live in 2009, many insiders believed it would become the currency of choice for the masses within a few years.
Unfortunately, those predictions were a tad optimistic as Bitcoin is still seen as an “alternative” option rather than “the” option for those spending money online. However, that’s not to say you can’t do some “mainstream” things with Bitcoin. Indeed, when you consider that British Airways, a company that made $1.2 billion (£850 million) in profit in 2015, now accepts Bitcoin payments, it’s clear the currency is gaining credibility.
Bitcoin Already Has Base Online
In fact, it’s not only the aviation industry that’s starting to realise the value of Bitcoin payments. iGaming, otherwise known as online gambling, is a $41 billion (£28 billion) industry that’s starting to see more Bitcoin-based sites spring up. VegasCasino, a Vegas Royal S.A., platform now offers an array of Bitcoin only betting options.
Inside the VegasCasino sportsbook, customers can place bets from as little as 0.10 mBTC on everything from football and Euro 2016, to the NBA playoffs and the Olympics. Similarly, the site also offers slots, table games and ever virtual lotteries; all of which are powered by Bitcoin alone.
Beyond the iGaming industry, Dell, the computer manufacturer, brokered a deal with Bitcoin walled Coinbase in 2015 which allowed cryptocurrency customers to get a discount on Alienware PCs. Similarly, Overstock.com began offering discounted prices on everything from watches to bed linen after it started accepting Bitcoin payments in 2014.
Are We on the Cusp of Technological Shift?
In a nutshell, what we’re currently seeing is a shift in the way transactions of all shapes and sizes are processed online. As we can see, Bitcoin is already thriving in a variety of industries and it’s this popularity that has helped blockchain technology move into the mainstream.
Whether or not this will in turn bring people’s attention back around to Bitcoin remains to be seen, but what is clear is that people are willing to accept new forms of technology and that should mean we’ll be seeing a myriad of innovations in the coming months and years.