Post #769 – Wednesday, January 11,
What Do You Know About BlockChain?
In 2015, Virgin’s Richard Branson hosted a “blockchain summit”
on his private Caribbean island. In that
same year, while addressing a Conference of managing partners and legal
marketing professionals, I asked the audience, how many of them had heard about
BlockChain and to my surprise not a single hand was raised. And that has been the pattern throughout all
of 2016 whenever I broach the topic with some group of lawyers – including in
December when I raised the topic again amongst the partners of a significant
Well, for what it’s worth, I received
a note the other day from Gerald Celente, Publisher of
The TRENDS JOURNAL, updating me on a few of the latest developments.
Groups ranging from Wells Fargo to the London Stock Exchange are
getting ready for a blockchain-based future.
Overall, more than $1.5 billion has been invested worldwide in
blockchains’ possibilities so far. Goldman
Sachs has put $50 million into startups creating their own blockchains. And the U.S. Federal Reserve, the Bank of
England and the Bank of Canada have all announced plans to examine the pros and
cons of digital currencies. Perhaps as
early as this year, your bank or investment manager could be managing your
money with blockchains. But blockchains
will reach beyond banks — it’s good for much more than logging payments. They
can be used to validate the security of anything with value.
Gem, a blockchain entrant, has partnered with Capital One and
healthcare giant Philips to smooth and speed payments for medical insurance
claims. The Cambridge, Massachusetts,
company Learning Machine has partnered with MIT’s Media Lab to create a
blockchain that stores and verifies academic degrees and professional
certifications. A college graduate can store diplomas and certificates
electronically on a smartphone.
In June, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security gave a $199,000
grant to Factom, a company in Austin, Texas, to figure out ways to use
blockchain designs to maintain the integrity of the so-called internet of
things. With every device connected to
every other one through the internet, the potential for hackers and malware
skyrockets. Blockchains may be a new tool for cybersecurity. And with a grant from the Bill and Melinda
Gates Foundation, Factom is setting out to apply blockchains to secure
electronic medical records as well.
It’s not only about keeping snooping insurance companies from
prying into your health history. There’s
also the problem that medical records in developing countries or remote regions
aren’t always accessible and sometimes not updated quickly. Blockchains resolve those problems. Using the blockchain’s options, people could
decide who may see their medical records. People could even have ready access
to their own records, instead of wrangling with a doctor before getting a look.
Major companies are betting big on blockchaining’s future. To set a standard, more than 30 major
companies — including Hitachi, JP Morgan and Intel — have formed
Hyperledger. That project aims to settle
on a general-purpose blockchain structure that can be used by any enterprise in
any industry. IBM already has chipped in tens of thousands of lines of software
code to the venture. These companies,
like so many others, invest in the effort because they foresee the benefits.
I believe that Blockchains will transform the way we exchange
value in our digital, cyber-insecure future.