Almost ten years ago people first found out about the blockchain technology. Since then, the representatives of different industries have been monitoring the development of this technology to find a use for it in their fields. Moreover, most established companies are merging into alliances such as Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA), R3, and Hyperledger Project, to create new blockchain-based solutions. We want to share opinions of experts on the development of blockchain in 2018, and which companies are planning to implement the new technology in the near future.
Dmitriy Zhulin, co-founder of INS Ecosystem, expects to see blockchain become a widely adopted mainstream technology in 2018, transforming a whole host of industries from financial services and retail, to logistics and medicine. At the same time Max Kordek, co-founder of Lisk company, believes that we can expect many developments in the blockchain network governance in 2018, which will include new consensus mechanisms and updated principles for making decisions regarding network upgrades:
"With Bitcoin's User Activated Soft Fork (UASF), or Lisk's Delegated-Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanisms, we can expect future solutions that help make crucial decisions about a project's future. The issue of scalability will be another hot topic continuing into 2018. Current blockchain frameworks are still lagging behind when compared to transaction speeds offered by traditional competitors such as VISA or Mastercard. The industry will need to find new solutions and optimise code to a point where competitive levels of responsiveness can be achieved. This is one of the reasons why Lisk is implementing sidechains. Ensuring well-distributed network activity and improving processing speed on the network is essential."
Oliver Bussmann – the president of not-for-profit Crypto Valley Association and former CIO at UBS – noted that larger banks will be interested in the blockchain payment systems, because they are tempted by the advantages blockchain brings in terms of real-time processing, lower risk profiles, lower costs and transparency. The businessman also said that in 2017, the companies he had the privilege to work with had paid more and more attention to the new kinds of services that blockchain enables, particularly if blockchain combined with IoT and AI. According to Bussman, this trend will continue in 2018, as the recent report in Forbes states as well. The encrypted and decentralized nature of blockchain is very useful for monitoring the ever-growing number of devices on IoT. Thus, the report notes that the computing power used for mining bitcoins could be used to protect smart homes from cyber-robbers of the new generation.
The CEO of Nucleus Vision, Abhishek Pitti describes blockchain characteristics which will help in developing stronger data protection. He believes that in 2018, this area will see the most significant benefits from the mutual development of such technologies as cryptography, encryption, and blockchain:
"Blockchain is a powerful tool that can bring positive change in many industries, and we foresee that advancements in encryption technology and cryptography, coupled with blockchain, will be the recipe for success in the security industry in 2018. For instance, the Equifax data hack is something that needed more than just blockchain to have prevented it. While blockchain technology could have really helped customers assert more control over their own personal data owned by the company, bad security practices would have left them vulnerable, with or without blockchain. Where blockchain's security features will really come into their own will be in their coupling with IoT. With an ever-increasing number of connected devices, 2018 will need blockchain's security architecture to protect IoT applications and users from sophisticated data breaches. I strongly believe that 2017 was only a trailer for what is to come in 2018 across the entire blockchain ecosystem and sector."
Thanks to blockchain, the use of smart contracts will change too. Last summer IT giant IBM, American Insurance Corporation AIG, and financial company Standard Chartered PLC completed pilot testing of blockchain-based "smart" international insurance policy. For the first time blockchain and smart contracts were used in this industry, which will further develop this project on a massive scale in 2018. Oliver Bussmann is sure that blockchain is changing not only of the financial and insurance sectors but will also impact other industries. In this regard, next year many companies will have to adapt their business models to meet the requirements of the new markets.
“In a world where middlemen are becoming obsolete, companies will have to learn to stop thinking in silos and be more open to becoming partners in ecosystems or on broader platforms. That, in turn, means deciding what kinds of business models they want – whether it's platform plays, product plays, omni-channel strategies, and so on”.
As Forbes states blockchain will have wide-ranging implications for the way employers assess candidates and fill vacancies. In 2018, there will be many platforms on the market similar to APPII, which provides users with "smart" profiles on the blockchain network. Not only will these profiles contain users CVs, but also information about their career merits and achievements, certificates of competing educational programs and any other vital information. Besides, educational institutions and employers will have access to profiles to confirm this information, thereby making it fully reliable.
The recent report from IDC Health Insights – a research and consulting firm – notes that in the next few years the blockchain technology will be used in many areas of healthcare. The study "World forecasts of the healthcare industry 2018" predicts that by next year 20% of organizations will be actively developing blockchain projects. By 2020 blockchain will be used in operational management, as well as for maintaining databases of patients. The Skycell company is a vivid example of how blockchain and IoT offer an efficient supply chain to the pharmaceutical industry, which includes payments, billing, and insurance.
At the same time participants of the Blockchain Research Institute project, which include IBM, Pepsi Co., and FedEx, expect that blockchain implemented in the manufacturing and production industries, will not become just a principal instrument, but will embody the second generation of the digital revolution, with the first one being the invention of the Internet. Such companies as Foxconn will use the blockchain to monitor transactions in their supply chain.
Blockchain director at LOOMIA Saul Lederer believes that in 2018 we will see how established companies, that have already managed to prove themselves in various markets, will launch pilot services and products based on the public blockchain.
"Established companies are very cognizant of how institutions that ignored the internet in the 90s were consumed by web startups, and they don't want to be similarly blindsided with the arrival of blockchain technology. They recognize it's either start experimenting with a blockchain or go the way of a blockbuster."