What are the most promising proof of concept projects?
The blockchain is a versatile tool that can be used in processes ranging from the recording of smart contracts to the management of complex supply chains.
There are also countless proof-of-concept projects competing for investors' money and resources. Some will stand the test of time, but others will prove to be overhyped and underwhelming when it comes to market acceptance and performance. So, which are the most promising? We asked four experts for their views.
Smart contracts set to become the standard
All of our experts agreed that blockchain-powered smart contracts are poised to become the norm. According to Maksim Balashevich, co-founder of Santiment, the reason is that the “transparent and immutable statement of the transaction … is too good and cost effective not to become the standard.”
In an email to Blockchain Tech News, Ari Meilich, project lead at Decentraland, wrote, "Smart contracts will be a core technology of the financial and legal infrastructure of tomorrow. I think that they’re giving birth to a new way to transact: Smart contracts are not a standardization tool, but the foundations of a new way of doing business."
Many professionals in the financial industry believe that the concept has a long way to go — especially since startups are still developing key elements and security protocols for the technology.
"Smart contracts to execute trustless transactions in code where it currently takes institutions with major infrastructure is a no-brainer," Rob Vigilione, co-founder of ZenCash, wrote in an email. "That's the promise, but we're not quite there yet and it'll take a lot more effort to prove feasibility and then to convince people to abandon the familiar [method] that they know already works."
Decentralized governance, identity management and more
The experts identified a number of other promising proof-of-concept projects, as well, including decentralized governance and identity management.
Simon Yu, CEO of CakeCodes, pointed to the identity management solution from startup Civic as a good example. "Virtual currency has helped provide more anonymous and private transactions to many users, but banking regulations on knowing your customer often conflict with virtual currency," he said. "Civic is helping to bridge this gap with its identity management solution."
Meilich said that one Decentraland partner, Aragon, is developing technology to govern organizations on the blockchain without intermediaries. "By enabling anyone in the world to start a business on a virtual jurisdiction, they are eliminating the friction associated with creating value," he said.
Viglione said he believes that experimentation with decentralized governance might also enter into the realm of political governance one day.
Balaschevich also mention the huge amount of experimentation currently underway with tokens. This could one day lead to the creation of a token economy, he said.
Don’t count out virtual currency
It can be easy to forget that bitcoin was, in fact, the first proof-of concept project for the blockchain, and with the recent BIP-91 activation, it is continuing to innovate, according to Viglione. BIP-91 is a solution to the bitcoin scalability problem that increases the block size to enable faster transactions.
"Bitcoin is the most promising project and I'd say it is still in the proof-of-concept stage," Vigilione said. "For a while it seemed the project was being held up, but BIP-91 activation opens the door for a whole bunch of innovation in the near future."
Which is 'best'?
Based on the data and the input from experts, it seems certain that smart contracts and identity management solutions will take off. However, it's just as certain that this will not happen overnight, given the financial services industry's historically slow and cautious approach to new technologies.
For many blockchain projects, the missing key to success is confidence. Startups that are able to build trust and a reputation within their respective areas of expertise —not only for creative thinking, but also for responsiveness and flawless project execution — will have the best shot at propelling their technologies forward to widespread acceptance.
Bradley Cooper is a Technology Editor for DigitalSignageToday.com. His background is in information technology, advertising, and writing.www