Trends in blockchain: 4 local experts reveal what they’re starting to see

May 23, 2018

Blockchain is the tech buzzword of recent record. As the technology’s potential for businesses in established and emerging industries becomes clearer, new trends — and opportunities — are emerging.

Built In LA spoke with four blockchain experts about what trends they’re noticing and how blockchain is evolving as the grows.

 

Gem blockchain startup venice california
photo via gem
Matt Smith
Software Architect

Headquartered in Venice, Gem’s enterprise-level, blockchain-agnostic distributed application offers companies like Philips, Capital One and Toyota a smart contract development platform. In April, the company launched the beta for a mobile-first digital asset management platform it hopes will serve as a one-stop-shop for cryptocurrency fans.



As the network grows, what new industries are beginning to integrate blockchain?

Blockchain networks are ideal for keeping track of many small events, each with many organizationally-distinct participants. One promising application is in supply chain management and logistics. These are systems that have to track many items changing hands frequently between agents of suppliers, couriers, manufacturers and consumers as they move through the physical world. A universal, unchanging, privacy-forward log of what happened during transportation for every item ever shipped would have immense implications.

However, mapping physical events using digital records is a tough thing to do reliably, so in the nearer term, we can focus on purely digital applications. For example, even more well-suited to blockchain solutions are the regulatory demands being made around data management through frameworks like the EU's GDPR. One requirement imposed by GDPR on any company receiving data about an EU citizen is the "Right to Erasure," which stipulates that the company must, upon request, not only delete its copies of all data regarding the requesting citizen, but ensure that any other parties that may have received any subset of that data also delete all copies thereof.

The industry is particularly vulnerable to hype-driven boom/bust cycles, which in turn lead to a bandwagon effect.”
 

What trends are you starting to see as the network grows?

Since a big driver for participation in the rapidly-evolving blockchain ecosystem is speculation, the industry is particularly vulnerable to hype-driven boom/bust cycles, which in turn lead to a bandwagon effect: a lot of blockchain projects are focused on whatever use case garnered heavy attention, investment or speculation during the previous fiscal quarter.

Regulations are slowly becoming clearer on the limitations and legality of blockchain-powered fundraising mechanisms, which will reduce the number of illegitimate projects, but probably increase the overall number of projects as more conservative participants enter the arena.

 

Lucidity los angeles blockchain startup
photo via lucidity

Lucidity applies the Ethereum blockchain to adtech, helping businesses eliminate billing discrepancies and publisher domain spoofing and enabling supply chain payment trackers to keep advertisers more informed.

 

What is blockchain’s greatest strength?

Blockchain’s greatest strength is its ability to create transparency and trust in industries where there is very little. Because information stored on the blockchain can’t be altered or manipulated, anyone that views can trust in its accuracy. At the same time, blockchain can reach consensus on information that doesn’t match. So whenever there’s a supply chain with discrepant data, blockchain technology can resolve those discrepancies and greatly increase the efficiency of the entire supply chain.

Companies are starting to focus on the real-world applicability of blockchain — as opposed to simply the theoretical applicability.”

What trends are you starting to see as the network grows?

It might seem obvious, but more companies are starting to realize that you need more than just a whitepaper to justify using blockchain technology. There are a lot of problems that blockchain can’t solve, but the problems it can solve require hard evidence of a working product, case studies and success stories. Companies are starting to realize this, and focus on the real-world applicability of blockchain — as opposed to simply the theoretical applicability.

 

impactppa los angeles blockchain renewable energy startup
photo via impactppa

Founded in 2017, ImpactPPA hopes to use blockchain to bring affordable, renewable electricity to the 2.5 billion people currently without consistent access to power. Created by serial entrepreneur Dan Bates, the company’s platform was recently selected by the Indian government to facilitate a major economic development project that aims to add 50 million textile jobs for women in the country’s most underdeveloped areas.

 

What are blockchain’s strengths, and what is its potential?

The blockchain allows for transparency never before possible with more traditional technologies. The analogy is: the internet is about content and the blockchain is about money and data. This gives rise to new business models and opportunities that are driven by cost savings and efficiencies.

The analogy is: the internet is about content and the blockchain is about money and data.”

What trends are you starting to see as the network grows?

We are seeing more and more companies using the blockchain to add value to business operation, streamlining cumbersome processes and adding new layers of efficiency and transparency.

 

paragon blockchain cannabis coworking space los angeles
photo via paragon
Jessica VerSteeg
CEO

Paragon is using blockchain to bring transparency to an industry in the midst of a major transition: cannabis. Recently, the company started taking applications for its new, LA-based coworking facility, Paragon Space, which was purchased using cryptocurrency alone.

 

What are blockchain’s strengths, and what is its potential?

Blockchain’s biggest strength lies in the ability to store data in an immutable blockchain. This means that businesses can access data and review past information; nothing is lost. This is particularly useful in situations where a dispute could arise, such as when a payment was made. If the payment was facilitated by a blockchain-based platform, the payment can be retraced to the wallet address that made the payment.

Voting on blockchain would provide absolute certainty of the outcome, because nobody can manipulate it and anyone can view the actual counts without compromising voters’ privacy.”

What trends are you starting to see as the network grows?

There are now hundreds, if not thousands of companies that are applying blockchain to existing business models or creating entirely new business models exclusively interconnected with blockchain. This is a great trend to see, as the potential is already evident.

The entire concept of blockchain revolves around decentralization. I’m particularly interested to see how blockchain can affect voting. Voting on blockchain would provide absolute certainty of the outcome, because nobody can manipulate it and anyone can view the actual counts without compromising voters’ privacy. This isn’t limited to government level votes — it can be applied to corporate votes for shareholders, making participation more accessible for minority shareholders in large institutions.   

 

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