Blockchain in 2022

“Why don’t you pay cash?” said the manager at my favourite Turkish restaurant in Kentish Town, holding the palm sized card reader in his hand. “Cash is good, I like the feel of cash in my hand.” Debating why we still use cash at a local Kabab shop may not be the obvious backdrop for the discussion on the digitalisation transformation catalysed by the Pandemic but it is a sign of our times that many of us are now walking around with a smartphone and a bank card. 

According to the report from Worldpay from FIS, cash will account for less than 10 percent of in-store payments in the U.S. and just 13 percent of payments worldwide by 2024. Over that same time period, the report projects digital wallet payments to account for more than a third of all in-store payments . Furthermore, the use of mobile wallets exceeded cash for the first time for in-store payments. Imagine a world without ATM’s and without cash… it doesn’t feel that far away.

As we turn the chapter into 2022, its timely to think forward and consider how things may look by the end of 2022 and which technologies will drive seismic change. The themes driving digital transformation next year will be sustainability, improving transparency and building resilience in supply and value chains. 

The pandemic, nationalistic politics and other trade shocks such as Brexit have demanded a different approach to supply chain management from ‘just-in-time’ to ‘just in case’ . 

Consumer behaviour is also changing as digital adoption is increasing from the humble restaurant to the explosion of online retailing, transportation and video communications.

Technology companies are pushing on an open door with both consumers and enterprise and this will continue throughout 2022 in areas such replacing legacy systems with new digital tools and the rise of the Metaverse.

Technologies in 2021 which will achieve further adoption in 2022 include Automation Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Quantum Computing, Internet of Things, Virtual Reality and Blockchain. It’s too early to say they will reach maturity, but they will continue to be centre of the conversation from legacy systems to digital 2.0. Technologies such as industrial automation, IoT and AI underpin a wider theme of Industry 4.0 as our manufacturing process moves to higher levels of automation reducing the need for human contact, particularly important in a Pandemic.

The adoption of such technologies are hampered by the volume and quality of the data. Blockchain is the foundation as it is able to securely deliver trusted data. Arguably, the combination of blockchain with AI, machine learning and robotics will make industry 4.0 a reality. 

Data is fast forming the backbone of any economy. But that data needs to be trusted, verifiable and auditable. Digitalisation has also brought in noise, just consider what we read in social media and how many of us assume it is factual. The old adage of “garbage in, garbage out” remains true. If we cannot trust where the data comes from, we cannot react to it effectively. The internet was never built with trust at its core, instead prioritising access. Blockchain can bring trust to data. 

“The year ahead will show that blockchains can support a lot more applications beyond money and finance. In 2022 decentralised services will chip away at big tech companies’ stranglehold on the internet.” The World Ahead 2022.

Blockchain technology has advanced significantly from an original distributed ledger technique developed to keep track of bitcoin ownership. Unlike a traditional database blockchain databases can be the single source of truth and allow collaboration between organisations without compromising data privacy. Blockchain’s immutability characteristics enable the optimal audit record which is increasingly critical for all areas of business operations and transaction reporting. Finally, Blockchain can automate decisions based on logic: Smart Contracts. Auto execution of business rules makes for a world which is faster, cheaper and fair.

Applications for this technology in the enterprise world are numerous, consider Supply Chains, Circularity, ESG, Greenwashing, Digital identity management for Anti-money laundering requirements, etc.

A barrier to greater Blockchain adoption is the question of which Blockchain to use. According to IBM Research Institute Report over 75% of CTO’s and CIO’s ranked interoperability and integration as a priority for choosing a blockchain technology. The use of middleware solutions such as Finboot’s Marco solve this problem and are becoming the favoured solution vs building applications on a single blockchain ledger.  

Let’s not forget Blockchain is the foundation to the creation of new asset classes such as Cryptocurrencies and NFT’s. Coinbase lists over 15,000 cryptocurrencies with an aggregate market cap of over US$2.6 trillion . In 2022, the question of whether this asset class is here to stay will be firmly behind us. Regulators are at long last catching up and new rules and guidelines will drive mainstream adoption further, fuelling the growth of the underlying Blockchain technology through greater familiarity.  

Whatever the application, Blockchain has the ability to transform business and economies because of its ability to bring integrity to data. As the digitalisation of the world continues to accelerate, emerging economies have the opportunity to leapfrog their developed peers and set a new threshold for a fully connected community.

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