The cryptocurrency industry has had a difficult start in 2018. Within days of China intensifying its attempts to crackdown on the use and distribution of virtual currencies within its borders, Bitcoin crashed in value from an all-time high of almost $20,000 USD back in December to an all-time low of $6,000 on February 6th. Several other cryptocurrency markets were also in the red during the first week of February, giving rise to discussions about their long-term viability and longevity. As with any market, the financial value of cryptocurrencies will rise and fall over time, however, it’s the technology behind it that holds the real value and is key to all cryptos’ underlying goal of decentralization.
A large part of blockchain’s appeal as a form of innovative tech is that it can overcome geographic, political and financial borders, offering the potential of economic development in underdeveloped counties. Interestingly, one of the self-declared leaders in the implementation of blockchain tech is Ukraine. On its official Facebook page, the Ministry of Justice Ukraine recently posted: “Ukraine has become one of the world leaders in the implementation of the blockchain technology. A significant contribution has been made by OpenMarket, having become the first online auction in the world, which uses the innovative cryptographic technology of blockchain.” Formerly called the SETAM platform, OpenMarket with support from Bitfury was able to integrate blockchain technology in just three months, making it the first in the world to do so.
One of the industries in which blockchain technology could have the most impact is the iGaming industry. In recognition of this the newly formed Double C Foundation, an advisory board consisting of industry experts including executives from the global poker and casino platform PokerStars, has relaunched CasinoCoin. This open source, peer-to-peer crypto has been designed to facilitate transparency across the regulated online casino gaming sector. The impact of cryptocurrencies, particularly Bitcoin, on this sector was a key talking point throughout the tech world in 2017, but it’s undeniable that CasinoCoin and initial coin offerings (ICOs) like CoinPoker are necessary first steps in the direction of integration.
ICOs also made plenty of headlines in 2017, but they’ve not had their day just yet. ICOs are springing up across many different markets and industries, and one aims to return crowdfunding back to the crowd. Acorn is an Ethereum DLT-based platform currently in the initial stages of its ICO. Its core mission is to “create an open, global community and marketplace for crowdfunding,” incorporating decentralized blockchain tech and its own proprietary currency — OAK — to bypass local taxation that would otherwise prohibit recipients in developing economies from benefitting from crowdfunding.
Unlike the big crowdfunding platforms Kickstarter and Indiegogo, Acorn is making use of an ICO on the blockchain to eradicate transaction fees, which currently range from three to five percent of total funds raised. P2P smart contracts have also been incorporated into the platform, ensuring the mitigation of any potential “cross-national jurisdiction and litigation.”
The airline industry is also utilizing blockchain technology to power its own innovations. Singapore Airlines recently announced that it will be launching a private blockchain wallet for the company’s KrisFlyer frequent flyer programme. According to the official announcement, a successful proof-of-concept trial with KPMG and Microsoft helped to solidify the concept, and the airline is currently signing up other retail merchants to join the service. In Australia, Brisbane Airport has begun rolling out Bitcoin payments across some of the shopping and retail facilities in its terminal, and Surf Air in the U.S. also recently announced that it will be accepting cryptocurrencies as a form of payment for airline tickets soon.
Across the board, established businesses and new start-ups are waking up to the possibilities that integrating blockchains and other DLTs can offer. Share prices in cryptocurrencies themselves will always fluctuate, but the security of blockchain and its low business overheads make it a viable technology for future innovations. As Jen-Hsun Huang, CEO of global graphics cards giants Nvidia recently stated: “Crypto is a real thing – it’s not going to go away,” and the world is only just beginning to wake up to the potential of this real phenomenon.