The internet started its life over 30 years ago, and since then, it has penetrated almost every aspect of our lives. Today, it underpins virtually everything we do. The next technology evolution that is likely to have a great impact on all our lives is blockchain.
Skeptics keep asking the same questions over and over again about blockchain: Why is no one using it? What will people do with digital assets? When will people buy products with cryptocurrencies regularly?
Innovation cycles take time
All innovation cycles take time and most of them jump through the same hoops and go through the same layers before they become a mass-market product or service. To understand the evolution of blockchain and the potential it has to pervade every aspect of our lives, we need to take a step back and to consider how the internet went from a cool, niche idea to one of the most ubiquitous forces on the planet.
Internet was slow and nobody used it at first
Our first experience of the internet was when we would sit and listen to the dulcet tones of those modems as they attempted to connect to the internet. These service providers were called ISPs — internet service providers — and without them we wouldn’t have had the World Wide Web. At this point in history, the use case for the web was, well, nothing. But we connected nonetheless. It piqued our interest, and we were all intrigued.
Evolution of technology
Fast forward this internet evolution and, eventually, we arrive at e-commerce. Contrary to the way it may seem now, e-commerce arrived slowly but surely. We didn’t need to “go online.” Instead, we just ended up always online. We started to shop. We started to buy and sell. Before we knew it, we had a mass-market use case.
What was the one thing that everyone needed before they could shop at Amazon or before they could set up accounts on social networks, such as ICQ? Email addresses. Without the humble email address, one could not access almost any service on the internet.
Blockchain’s evolution path
So, the key here is: How does this evolutionary path relate to blockchain and crypto? In crypto, we first need the crypto. With the internet, we needed the connection. In order to access or acquire this crypto, we need the exchanges to sell it to us, which is similar to the ISPs in the internet example. These exchanges will continue to grow, and like ISPs, they too will eventually become commoditized. Like with internet access, the first stage of blockchain is now done.
The second wave, similar to broadband, is coming
The first wave of email addresses was provided by the ISP, and then we had standalone email providers. All of these needed desktop-based clients and we downloaded our email — a big pain in the posterior. Then came Hotmail, which was a game-changer. It changed the user interface and made it so easy for everyone to obtain an email address and read their emails from anywhere. Suddenly, we could use this one piece of information to build relationships with any company on the web. They could talk to us.
Equivalent of email address
This begs the question: What is the blockchain equivalent of email addresses? Put simply, wallets. What is the one thing we all need to have before we can start to use crypto? Wallets. Without any place from which we can send and receive crypto, and have others receive it, we cannot use crypto.
The first wave of wallets has been, just as the first wave of emails was, provided by the exchanges. The second wave will be independent.
Conclusion – Wallet is the key
The key to the next phase of crypto and blockchain development is the wallet. Whoever cracks that challenge could well be a key architect of our future.