Everybody’s heard of blockchain. Few people can really explain what it is. It began with Bitcoin, but can it really revolutionize the internet?
“The internet is broken,” says Shermin Voshmgir of BlockchainHub. “It’s broken because we don’t own our data.” Or to put it another way, as there’s no monetarization model on the internet, the online marketplace only works with PayPal or another platform in the middle.
Blockchain promises to decentralize the internet by reinventing data structures to allow truly peer-to-peer exchanges – i.e. without the middleman. Its advocates say blockchain technology allows smaller players to make a more meaningful impact in the market. It creates trust and efficiency between users directly that will one day allow us to share music without Spotify, for example, or accommodation without Airbnb.
Doubts remain, however, particularly about speed of performance (compared to real-time bidding) as well as nagging security concerns. And as Voshmgir freely admits, one of the thorniest issues will be the legal questions. Right now, internet law is client-server based, but what law should apply to blockchain?
Publishers are also experimenting, exploring the potential of blockchain to offer new business models. “It’s okay to fail a lot, because then you also learn a lot,” says Curt Simon Harlinghausen, of Publicis Media, who admits he is skeptical about the technology’s usefulness for marketers. “The most important thing to try it out and really get to know what Blockchain is.”
Greater transparency would help bring publishers and advertisers closer together, fight fraud and allow better data management – all that would boost the value exchange. Blockchain’s potential seems pretty evident for micropayments and supply chain securement – beyond that, however, not everyone is completely convinced yet.
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