Blockchain technology is becoming increasingly more popular as prices continue to rise, innovative companies continue demonstrating new uses, and the landscape as a whole gains more attention from global media.
We’re in the wake of an incredibly exciting time as big names around the world are testing and experimenting with blockchain technologies, giving even more momentum and credibility to crypto world.
According to a Coindesk analysis, patent applications relating to blockchain technology have nearly doubled in 2017 compared to the same period (January to June) in 2016, indicating growing investment into the technology by businesses in the US at least.
The Bank Of England Test Ripple (XRP) for cross border payments
Britain’s financial powerhouse The Bank Of England have recently began testing of the cryptocurrency Ripple for cross border payments in an effort to modernise the way money is sent around the globe. Million are sent every day, and the current systems are slow, outdated and expensive. Ripple was created to combat all of these problems, and has huge potential to revolutionise the industry.
We recently wrote an article entirely dedicated to this topic which you can read, and find a link to The Bank Of England’s summary here.
Major Payment providers embrace and develop blockchain
American Express allows Bitcoin buying via credit card on Bitcoin app Abra
Ranked by InterBrand as the 25th most valuable brand in the world in 2016, American Express is a huge deal! As of 25th July 2017, users can now buy Bitcoin on Abra using their American Express credit card.
Worth an estimated $18 Billion USD, they have a huge amount of power in the financial world, and as a company are embracing blockchain technology in other ways too. Over the years they’ve expressed interest in Bitcoin and blockchain technology, becoming an investor in Abra as far back as 2015, and more recently joined hyperledger at the beginning of 2017.
The HyperLedger project “is an open source collaborative effort created to advance cross-industry blockchain technologies. It is a global collaboration, hosted by The Linux Foundation, including leaders in finance, banking, IoT, supply chain, manufacturing and technology.” American Express are actively contributing and developing projects within hyperledger and we can expect great things from the colaboration! Many other members are contributing too and there are many ongoing projects. You can see a full list here
Visa partnered with Chain to develop blockchain based B2B (business to business) payments
Although not directly related to Bitcoin, Visa is the worlds second largest payment processing company, handling around 100 Billion transactions per year! It is not surprising that they’re interesting in blockchain technology given the fact they’re used to facilitate global electronic money transfers!
Partnering with Chain, they’re developing a proof of concept to ultimetly create a blockchain based solution to making business to business payments around the world a much simpler and more secure process.
Mastercard takes things to a new level and creates their own blockchain network!
Mastercard is a leader in global payments with it’s core services being transferring funds for purchases between banks of both merchants and consumers around the world. Similar to Visa in that way, and initially created as a competitor, they’re now pushing the boat out even further in the world of blockchain technology by creating their own entirely. Read more about the blockchain they’re developing here
The Digital Currency Group
When it comes to big names in digital assets, it would be hard to ignore the giant investor in blockchain based companies, the Digital Currency Group! Including the above organisations, they invest in over 70 blockchain based organisations, including many you probably already use. Their network and skills provide a great deal of leverage and knowledge and help their members when it comes it overcoming problems and moving blockchain forward, as well as capital to keep them afloat into profitability. Below is a list of some of the organisations they invest in of which you may be familiar:
- Bitflyer (Japan’s leading Bitcoin exchange)
- Purse (Buy on Amazon using Bitcoin)
For the full list of DCG’s investment portfolio, click here.
Since the first real world use of blockchain technology as a payment when Bitcoin was used to buy pizza back in 2010, there have been many merchants beginning to accept the currency, along with others, around the world!
10 well know merchants that accept Bitcoin
- Dell – Dell began accepting Bitcoin back in 2014, allowing customers to buy Dell products directly on their website using Bitcoin, forwarding those opting to use it to Coinbase to facilitate the transaction.
- Virgin Galactic – The world’s first commercial space flight company are giving customers for future space missions the option to buy their ticket using Bitcoin! Founder Richard Branson has shared his optimistic views on the currency in several interviews, find them here
- Steam – The desktop gaming platform Steam accept Bitcoin as payment!
- Shopify – The ecommerce giant Shopify accept Bitcoin for membership payments, and also support Bitcoin payment integration for their customer’s stores.
- CEX – One of Britain’s biggest second hand electronic trade in chains, CEX accept Bitcoin in hundreds of sotres all around the UK!
- Gyft – Buy hundreds of giftcards using Bitcoin!
- SubWay – 6″ or Footlong? Either pay, pay for it using Bitcoin!
- Microsoft – Microsoft accept Bitcoin, allowing users to load their account with the currency and buy online products on the Xbox and mobile platforms! Founder Bill Gates can be seen here talking about Bitcoin, saying he believes it is unstoppable!
- Reddit – The social media platform accepts Bitcoin for premium feature payments. Aside from paying with it, Reddit is also an amazing news resource for all cryptocurrencies, with subreddits for almost every one!
- Overstock – Buy big named brands for less, and now you can pay with Bitcoin!
There are literally hundreds of Bitcoin accepting stores and although we’ve only named 10 big names, you can check a map with all Bitcoin accepting stores worldwide here.
Whether or not Bitcoin will ever become globally used for day to day payments is a matter of debate. Current limitations in terms of blocksize limiting speed, and relatively large transaction fees, mean that for small purchases, Bitcoin is inferior to some of the newer altcoins. Although Bitcoin was the first, and the most widely known, other cryptocurrencies such as BitShares, Ripple, Dash & Ethereum to name just a few, would be much better suited to smaller day to day purchases. The transaction volume limits are significantly higher, costs are lower and transaction speeds faster. Bitcoin I think will always have a place, but it’s strengths show when it comes to large transactions needing to be securely transferred.
There are almost 1400 Bitcoin ATM machines around the world, with the number rising every month, and the figure expected to continue growing as popularity continues to grow. View a map of all the Bitcoin ATM’s around the world here.
Blockchains in the future
Is there any limit to the industries blockchain technology can revolutionise? Being on an open ledger and publicly available to view, with no chance of the ledger ever being changed, blockchains could significantly improve many old and failing processes. Such as:
- Voting – Public votes can not be interfered with or tampered,
- Law setting / democratic government decisions – Public votes on the blockchain on what they they think should be the best policy, majority rules,
- Vehicle history – Vehicle mileages and service history, as well as other stats could be stored on the blockchain, removing the possibility of tampering and ensuring a fairer motor trading industry,
- Encrypted communications,
- Taxes – Taxes could be paid via blockchains, where amounts paid are publicly visible and cannot be changed. Smart contracts could even ensure individuals pay the correct amount,
- Bill payments
- Day to day payment – will blockchain and cryptocurrencies ever take over physical cash as a method of exchange? Maybe not in the near future, but as far as risks go, this is the biggest the current financial system has ever faced!
With more and more people getting involved, new challenges arise, and governments will do everything they can to regulate and capitalise on the new found monetary exchange methods. Old policies in regard to currency and finances will need amending, financial planning will need rethinking, and institutions worldwide will be completely revolutionised.