With Bitcoin reaching new all-time highs and Ethereum’s recent ETH 2.0 upgrade, the general hype around cryptocurrencies has reached a new peak. But is this the future of commerce as we know it? It depends on who you ask. Prominent leaders from the spheres of finance, economics, politics and business have publicly referred to cryptocurrencies as anything from “rat poison” or “worthless junk” to hailing Bitcoin as “the new digital gold” and Ethereum “the digital oil” to fuel global economic growth over the next decades. However, if you look beyond the ebb and flow of sentiment and the bull and bear markets, you will find the “blockchain”: the protocols and revolutionary technology that underpins not just cryptocurrencies, but any form of digital transactions, data, digital assets and more.
Much in the same way that understanding the inner workings of a computer, the internet or a smartphone is not a prerequisite for using them or seeing (in hindsight) the tremendous impact they’ve had, the goal of this article is not to explain what the blockchain is (for that please see the 1000s of articles and videos online), but to discuss one of the many ways that it will impact our daily lives in the decades to come.
Let’s consider the term b-commerce for blockchain commerce.
Blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies provide completely new ways of not just settling transactions but also doing business and generating profits. In the face of Bitcoin, Ethereum and the thousands of other cryptocurrencies, governments and central banks are rushing to create their own Central Bank Digital Currencies (crypto version of the centralised ‘fiat’ currency we currently have). China’s CBDC is leading the way, with strong rumours indicating that the US is scrambling to catch up.
In these next years, we will witness the advent of a completely new breed of companies, value chains, business models, products, services and economic models that never existed before, because they were either not possible or because we simply could not even imagine them. Till now.
Some of these new economic models are abstract and complex, such as The Commons Stack’s use of token bonding curves to establish “commons-based micro-economies that sustain public goods.” But blockchain will also fundamentally transform the more basic, everyday aspects of our lives like voting, paying taxes and even our identity. Microsoft’s new digital identity uses a public, permission-less, decentralised DID (digital identity) overlay network that runs on top of Bitcoin and seeks to “provide a new way of owning our personal data.”