Vision finds out whether Blockchain, the technology inextricably linked to Bitcoin, can do for the transfer of value what the internet did for the transfer of information
It is claimed that Bill Gates famously said in 1995 “the internet is a passing fad”. Even though there is debate as to whether he actually said it the truth is that 20 years ago many heads of industry did not comprehend how the internet was about to change the world.
Fast forward 20 years to 2015 and there are many prominent individuals dismissing the importance of the Blockchain, the technology inextricably linked to Bitcoin. Those who understand it believe that Blockchain will do for the transfer of value, what the internet did for the transfer of information.
The Blockchain in it’s simplest form is a transparent online ledger, a secure cloud where information is saved in a chain. This means you can track the history of anything linked using the Blockchain and the number record is kept on the internet for all to see. The implications of this on all forms of innovation from travel to identity registration is world changing.
It is a forward looking, breakthrough technology that has been created for the digital age, allowing people and businesses to create products that need a layer of trust with unparalleled security. This resilience in security has made the Blockchain widely used as the backbone to secure cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.
Ahead of Innovation Week as part of an initiative by the UAE Prime Minister’s Office, the Blockchain Innovation Group has been formed to research the ways at which Dubai can build new Blockchain based solutions and offer them to the world.
"Blockchain, because of its security and its accessibility, will have amazing applications in a variety of sectors," said Jamil Abu-Wardeh, a media strategy and innovation expert who is a member of the Blockchain Innovation Group. "It's another example of Dubai's fearless forays using new technologies and avant-garde concepts."
'Bitcoin is a remarkable cryptographic achievement and the ability to create something that is not duplicable in the digital world has enormous value'
During its first phase, the Blockchain Innovation Group is looking at possible uses for this technology in different sectors where security of information is required and trust is of utmost importance. These include travel, the property sector, personal identity, education and even healthcare.
Even Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google, had acknowledged its importance, saying: “Bitcoin is a remarkable cryptographic achievement and the ability to create something that is not duplicable in the digital world has enormous value.”
The award-winning British singer Imogen Heap has just released her latest music album using Blockchain technology to make sure that as soon as someone downloads a song, everyone who worked on it gets paid instantly.
“And so when somebody listens to a track — the technology is very close to being there — it immediately recompenses me, and then I can split it off to my choreographer, to whatever, it can immediately go into their bank accounts. Instead of having to wait two years, sometimes, even more, for money to come back to me, it can be instant,” said the singer.
In Dubai, there are companies that have already set up businesses that use the security that Blockchain offers for innovative products. One such company is Umbrellab.com. The founders, Tarik Kaddoumi and Sergey Yusupov have already created a product that allows people to securely load their mobile phone account with credit using Bitcoin.
“The beauty of this technology is that someone in America can load mobile phone credit onto their mother’s mobile phone, even if she is in India. It is both secure and is there within seconds,” said Kaddoumi. However, this system is not available in the UAE yet.
“We use the underlying Blockchain technology in our product, Piiko.com, that will allow people to have digital contracts with unique security and trackability. The system means payment can be tracked without compromising the security of the information or the owners, meaning it will remain private,” explained Yusupov.
As with many new technologies, the skeptics are usually those who are content with the status quo, preferring to dismiss something they do not understand. Think of those working in the postal service or selling fax machines before the spread of e-mail. Part of the confusion was that it was free and not owned centrally. This is also true of Blockchain. It’s out there, and the exciting part is that human ingenuity will take us to places we have not yet imagined.