Blockchain technology is the technology behind Bitcoin that powers its use as a functioning currency and, at the same time, can also function in place of many current systems set in society. This technology opens up a new way of storing and sharing data which is hugely impactful to uses we can’t even conceive of yet.
The evolution of the use of blockchain technology coincides with how society itself has naturally developed, which has showcased a new set of needs and understandings. We can see this development in our steady progression in moving towards a peer-to-peer economy.
We are now encouraged by online platforms to exchange goods and services with each other instead of buying them from businesses or large service providers. This concept of exchanging peer-to-peer is a huge leap in how business is conducted and how resources are shared in society. It has opened our mindset on how we can obtain goods and services, and has shown us that which we don’t need to rely on anymore.
It has also revealed that we are more trusting of each other than we originally thought. We take advantage of goods and services that have true value and that are offered from our peers. In doing so, we realize our own value where we can act as a business ourselves by providing our own services.
A peer-to-peer economy has enabled us to conceive of a new way in which society can be run, and in doing so, has shown us the imbalances of control and power that were inevitable under our current centrally run model.
Now that we can clearly see the imbalances present, we are able to innovate new ways of transacting and participating in order to provide even more transparency and betterment of society as a whole.
This innovation is being done on the blockchain. The blockchain presents us with a tool for change that challenges our mental capacity to think what the future of the economy can transform into.
Replacing central powers in society allows us to conduct peer-to-peer transactions under an unbiased technology. This means we are now able to be the central authority of ourselves instead of handing it over to a company — we can own our transactions and participation in society by interacting directly with our peers.
The question though is, why can’t we do this now, with the current system we have in place?
Although we have the ability to transact with one another directly, our transactions are still being run under a central authority. This causes a multitude of issues, including shorting the amount of profit that the provider of the good or service receives through fees, thus stripping us of our personal data and taking away our sovereign right of ownership.
Let’s take Airbnb for example. If I list my home on Airbnb, they will take a percentage of my profit for conducting my service offered on their platform. Not only are they taking some of the profit I receive, but they are taking my personal data and the data of my transaction.
Their ability to take this data makes them a powerful entity in society, which means they have the ability to influence my transactions. Their ability to collect data from all transactions on their platform essentially means they own the history of the transaction, which then allows them to prepare for future transactions.
In order to create a system of trust without the intermediary of a company, we need some type of ledger that keeps a running history of someone’s money or identity within our transactions to ensure something is at stake. At the moment, Airbnb runs that ledger for us and we trust them to facilitate it accurately for the sake of what we, ourselves, are putting at stake.
Blockchain technology can facilitate this ledger. It takes out the need for a company because it operates under a reliable ledger of history which creates trust in our direct transactions.
We can take the middleman — who was once relied upon to be the connector — out of the equation. The middleman was never so clearly seen before because the transactions between peers weren’t pulled apart as separate entities who can offer true value and be trusted.
Now that we fully see the service the middleman provides, we can replicate it through a technology that can run the system without the biases and power the middleman needed to survive. We will soon have the ability to fully see the peer on the other side of the transaction — which will melt the boundaries that prevent us from directly transacting with them.
Illustration credit: Juliet Romano.