The two trends set to take blockchain mainstream


The concept of Blockchain technology has been around in one form or another since 1991, however it is only in the past decade that public recognition of the technology, and of crypto-currencies, has become more commonplace. Below are two major trends that we can expect to further the nascent sector’s aims of wider public acceptance, and adoption, as we move into the 2020s.

NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens)

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you have no doubt noticed that the world is currently in the grips of an NFT craze. The tokens, based on blockchain, have given a host of different markets a fresh and novel opportunity to monetize digital products. From the NBA selling historic game video clips as collectibles, to digital artists like Beeple earning $69 million for the sale of their oeuvre, the phenomenon has generated great excitement and investment from all corners. 

If the technology has staying power, is it most likely to be felt in the music industry that has been struggling since the rise of streaming platforms to generate viable and meaningful revenue from their products. Artists as diverse as Grimes, the Kings of Leon, Gorillaz and Calvin Harris have begun putting out songs and albums as NFTs, hoping to recover some of the excitement and uniqueness of physical collectible memorabilia. Though in spite of this early adoption, not everyone is convinced that the technology is set to be as disruptive as some hope for, more cautious investors are watching the NFT phenomenon with great curiosity. 

The speculation around the technology has many analysts pointing to the lessons learned from the 90s dot com boom, suggesting that NFTs themselves could be the next bubble crash to befall the over-eager technology sector. This is not an unwarranted comparison, as software products are particularly vulnerable to inflation due to their non-corporeal nature. Already the sector is awash with stories of high profile NFT scams. One wealthy NFT collector was recently scammed out of £244,000 when they purchased a digital artwork believed to be made by Banksy. It quickly became apparent that this was in fact a demonstration by an internet activist hoping to draw attention to the volatility of the medium.

Eco-friendly Crypto-Currencies

Back in March 2021, Tesla Inc., the world’s most valuable car company, of which Musk is acting CEO, announced they will be accepting Bitcoin as a payment method on their vehicles. This was big news as it was the first major organisation to validate crypto-currencies in this way. Accordingly, Bitcoin’s share price sky-rocketed and news outlets across the world scrambled to explain this development and its implications to the general public. Then, shortly afterwards in May 2021, Musk announced via Twitter that Tesla would no longer be accepting Bitcoin as a payment method. The reason cited for this abrupt U-turn was concerns over Bitcoin’s environmental impact. Tesla, a company that has built their public reputation around sustainability and the environmental benefits of electric vehicles, simply could not abide by the negative publicity generated from its association with the leading crypto currency. 

In the wake of this news, share prices for Bitcoin dropped by 10% overnight. As with Dogecoin, this raised questions about market volatility and brought fresh calls for something to be done about the ability of private individuals to affect the sector so markedly. Ultimately this was besides the point as the developments brought into wider public consciousness for the first time an awareness of the deleterious environmental impact of the crypto-currency industry. The BBC then broke the story that Bitcoin mining, the process by which value is generated for the currency through energy intensive computations, consumes more power than the entire public and private sector of Argentina

These developments highlighted a crucial stumbling block on the technology’s road to wider acceptance. Musk later shared that he would be working with several leading currencies, including Bitcoin, to explore means by which this impact could be lessened. Analysts also saw in this a great opportunity for those well-established coins that have made a name for themselves by being less energy intensive, such as Cardano. However, these are eco-friendly coins out there that stand to take things further, by tying their value to the growth and uptake of renewable energy sources. One good example of this is Solarcoin, which derives value from units of solar energy accrued. Such coins point to the market’s ability to radically transform its impact to one of profound ecological benefit, paving the way for it to truly become the currency of the future.

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