Most consumers don't know a lot about the blockchain. You might hear some mumblings about Bitcoin, but very few meaningful takeaways have truly hit the masses. This is interesting, as much of the innovation that surrounds the landscape has an end-goal of bolstering and optimizing day-to-day life for consumers in nearly every facet of their financial life, from fraud-free event tickets to international banking without delays.
If you ask the tech community about blockchain innovation, however, you will receive a far more vocal and usually staggeringly enthusiastic response. There is an equal level of intrigue and debate over whether blockchain can be a core technology and for good reason. Not without its own set of challenges, the technology can make most areas of business operate more transparently, with less middle-men and a far higher level of efficacy.
The potential use cases, from smart contracts to ad verification, are springing up across brand incumbents. This merely scratches the surface however, as startups have begun to realize that by utilizing the blockchain, they can decentralize just about anything and this is where the true disruption lies.
The following three innovators are challenging some of the most basic tenets of how business is done and how consumers will be affected.
Sia: Decentralizing Cloud Storage
The current cloud storage landscape is not without its faults at the moment, even with some of the most well-funded and respected brands running into problems. The largest issue in the eyes of many, is that one individual company can hold every important file you own.
Sia splits, encrypts, and distributes stored user files across a decentralized network and in the process provides a real challenge to Dropbox, Amazon, Microsoft and other cloud storage innovators. The value proposition here is that one single company no longer owns your crucial files and data, while also dragging down costs and spreading files across nodes, mitigating the risk of any singular point of failure.
Conceived at HackMit 2013, Sia also allows anyone to potentially monetize their own hard drives. Hoping to be the storage layer of the future and based on some of their more positive attributes, they have seen massive growth already. The decentralized storage space is one to watch in general with plenty of action coming from other innovators such as Storj.
MyBit: Decentralizing Renewable Energy
Mybit has the lofty end-goal of tokenizing any machine infrastructure in an effort to commoditize the AI economy and they are achieving this goal starting with renewable energy. They created a blockchain-based platform for granting landowners access to crowdfunding and investment sources for a decentralized power grid, for example, any landowner that wants, but cannot afford solar panel installation.
Large scale AI and iOT expansion results in massive demand increases for energy, traditional grids will not be able to scale rapidly enough for the demand. MyBit is looking to remove the financial barriers to entry in the alternative asset investment space, allowing anyone of any location or socioeconomic background to benefit from a sustainable infrastructure. It is hard to imagine a more pressing need than providing the funding needed to embrace clean energy globally right now.
Ripple: Disrupting Global Bank Transfers
Ripple’s growth has become so robust that they're already looking to corner about half of Japan’s banking system this year with goals towards the global market. As of Spring of 2017, over 75 banks were already signed up with no signs of things slowing down.
Ripple offers a distributed financial technology that allows banks to send real-time international payments across networks without the hassles, time delays and cost inefficiencies of currently endemic systems like Swift. At day’s end banking digitization in a smart manner can not only impact direct cost savings for the bank by opening efficiencies, but more importantly, provide a far more frictionless experience for end customers. From individuals to global organizations, the impact of quicker international payments is staggering.
Read more about digital currency on TechCo