We've heard that the blockchain is a disruptive technology that will impact our businesses and our lives. It's slated as the digital technology likely to have the greatest impact over the next few decades.
There's plenty of information on-line about blockchain, explaining what it is and how it works. Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency traded with blockchain but the blockchain is a powerful technology that can be used for many other applications.
If you're scratching your head thinking you'd like a simple non-technical, non-jargon explanation of blockchain here is a short article "How does the Blockchain Work (for Dummies) explained simply" that you can read in 5 minutes.
But there's a lack of information predicting with this means for NZ business. I think the reason for this is that it's use is being experimented with and disruptive uses are yet to hit us directly.
Put yourself in the shoes of the inventors of email figuring out how what they've invented could change how we communicate but struggling to predict the rate of uptake, how it will be used, and it's impact on business communications.
Blockchain is as disruptive and will have impacts that can't be readily predicted.
So, back to my initial question... What could it mean for NZ business? Here are some points:
1. It cuts out the middleman with instant digital transactions globally.
2. Digital transactions can be any piece of data, eg a contract, a medical record or a piece of intellectual property.
3. The blockchains can be exclusive to a private group or public.
4. Blockchains are by design trustworthy and secure.
6. You will be able to pay another organisation anywhere instantly and the receiver to instantly confirm receipt. You'll no longer have to wait for days for banks to transfer the funds (tying up the funds in the process) and the receiver to confirm the funds are received. This is the most obvious use, but there are many more.
7. You will be able to instantly exchange assets and transfer value. Short term or immediate financial and insurance services will be invented and facilitated with the blockchain.
8. A new economy of immediate value transfer is on the way where big intermediaries no longer play a major role. Some of these industries may be wiped out.
9. Exporters and importers will be able to transact with their suppliers and customers instantly, without traditional time delays inherent in international transaction commerce and paperwork, also at lower cost.
10. Anyone with a phone will have equal access profoundly expanding markets.
After lots of reading I'd like to predict the impact this digital disruption technology will have on our businesses here in NZ with real life examples but even the experts agree it's difficult to predict what will come from the innovators and disruptors exploiting the platform.
My advice is to start thinking about your business and whether it could gain huge efficiency from the blockchain or could be wiped out by business being conducted without you being part of the transaction or delivery process.
I've got to go. We've blown a critical component in a custom piece of equipment and we need to order it's replacement from a supplier in Rosenheim.... Back now. Took 10 minutes. It's ordered, paid for, being manufactured tomorrow, customs have the data to instantly charge us the GST on entry and Urgent Couriers have the order details which will be triggered as it clears customs. The part is tracked throughout the process and should be at our plant by Friday. It's automatically in Xero and I only had to do one on-line transaction to set all this up.
Roll on the blockchain.