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The Blockchain: Does Everyone Want a Piece?

 5 min read / 

We are living in the information age where technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), big data, cloud services, and artificial intelligence continue to make headlines across the digital space. Yet, even with the unquestionable applicability of these technologies, married with emerging trends in several other industries, they continue to be dwarfed by the growing popularity of the blockchain technology.

The blockchain is described as a highly encrypted network of distributed ledgers called blocks, which startups and several technology giants seek to adapt their products and operations to. This has been interpreted by experts as an attempt to stay abreast of recent developments in the technology sector as companies prepare to pounce when opportunities arise. And with the direction the technology sector has taken, it is hard to find a technology company that has decided to stay on the sidelines of the distributed ledger technology. The blockchain technology has proven to have several applications and now every company wants to get in on the act.

So, how are companies targeting to capitalise on one of the most hyped-up technologies in the information age?

Blockchain and Crypto Have Gained the Attention of Top Corporations

While there are several stories about renowned stock investors that have ventured in the crypto trading market, the story that gives cryptocurrencies weight is the one that involves multiple top-tier corporations that have recently announced plans to raise capital via an initial coin offering (ICO). One of the most notable players in this respect is Overstock.com Inc (OSTK), a struggling retailer that last year enjoyed one of the best rallies in its history following an investment in crypto.

And while much of the gains from last year have since been eroded by the falling crypto prices, Overstock looks to make matters interesting by launching an ICO that will help it finance its new blockchain-based e-commerce platform.

Struggling camera and photography company Kodak (KODK) has also partnered with a Blockchain startup, WENN Digital, to launch KodakCoin via the KodakOne platform, thereby adding to the list of publicly listed companies that have shown interest in the cryptocurrency market.

Another popular technology company, Telegram, a social messaging app, also announced the launch of an ICO as it seeks to finance its expansion in a bid to compete with other popular social networking applications. In general, several companies, including blockchain marketing platforms, crypto exchange platforms, and e-commerce platforms, are looking to capitalise on the disruptive force of the blockchain technology via ICOs and crypto investing.

In another interesting piece, last month top automotive companies, including car manufacturing giants BMW, Ford Motor Company (F), General Motors (GM), and Renault, as well as car parts manufacturers ZF Friedrichshafen and Bosch, announced partnership plans to form the MOBI Consortium. MOBI, which stands for “Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative” will be used by the group to investigate the use of blockchain in automotive development. It aims to “make mobility safer, greener, and more affordable” read the report. So, the biggest multinational corporations are now in the game as well.

Government Organisations Interested In Blockchain and Crypto

In a recent report, Bahamas Central Bank announced that it was planning to experiment with digital currencies in a bid to create a platform that will help to bank the unbanked across its 700 islands. In doing so, it joined a list of countries that have taken measures perceived to be an attempt to take cryptocurrencies mainstream.

The Bank of Canada, the Bank of England, Singapore, Norway, and Sweden, among others, have also revealed plans to adapt part of their banking services to blockchain technology. Several stock exchanges, especially the Australia Stock Exchange (ASX) and Japan Exchange Group (JPX) are reported to have made major milestone towards launching blockchain-based platforms for selected stocks.

So, nearly everyone wants to capitalise on the highly popularised blockchain technology – from startup platforms and small online agencies all the way to governments and major corporations. What started as merely a bitcoin centred market has grown to become one of the world’s largest marketplaces.

Yet, We Still Have Critics

Even as many continue to show interest in crypto and other blockchain-based applications, not everyone is convinced yet. During Berkshire Hathaway’s (BRK.A) (BRK.B) first-quarter earnings conference, the question on crypto was thrown at Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger.

Buffett maintained his strong stance on bitcoin, stating its unjustifiable market valuation while Munger inferred to bitcoin trading as being immoral by comparing it to “selling freshly harvested baby brains”. So, it is correct to conclude that these two legendary investors will not be joining the crypto bandwagon any time soon.

In summary, there remain notable critics of the cryptocurrency market. However, new applications of the blockchain technology, including those that have caught the interest of various governments and top multinational corporations, could change the overall perspective on cryptocurrencies. Clearly, nearly everyone wants a piece now, and they are evaluating options that they could use to capitalise on this disruptive force of technology.

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