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Blockchain is coming for us – whether we know it or not

In Insights

Blockchain is a force for good and it’s going to impact all of our lives, sooner or later.

A decentralized future fostered by blockchain technology could in theory mean intermediaries like lawyers, brokers and bankers are no longer needed. The reality may not be quite as extreme, but the technology is there for us to grasp if we want it.

Blockchain can be applied to any transaction where traceability, immutability and visibility are required.

The use cases are many, from supply chain, marketing and gaming to ticketing, voting and intellectual property protection.

But does the world really know about blockchain and what’s about to happen?

Awareness

When you raise the subject of blockchain with most people, you get blank looks. Exposure to blockchain among the general public is limited. People may have heard about Bitcoin or read an article, maybe seen a TV segment, but outside of blockchain circles, there’s very little understanding of what this technology is and the benefits it can bring.

We’ve already said that blockchain is going to impact people’s lives, if it isn’t already, so we might look at this point in history as a one of a silent technological revolution. People don’t necessarily need to see it or even know it’s there to use it or for it to make their lives better.

The impacts will be there though. While blockchain is most often used to facilitate payments and verify records, there are other social values that blockchain brings to the table:

  • Fair value
  • Financial inclusion
  • Fights corruption
  • Governance

These are grand values. Blockchain is often talked about with lofty language that can make the technology sound like a pipe dream. But we don’t need to look far to find practical examples of how blockchain is already making people’s lives better.

Use cases in Japan

Healthcare

Japan is facing an unprecedented challenge of a shrinking population.

Japanese people are one of the longest-lived in the world. Some 38% of Japanese people will be aged 65 and over by 2065.

This impacts public spending on health, which is currently the sixth-highest among OECD countries. As one of the largest systems of its kind in the world, with more than 127 million subscribers, Japan’s healthcare system has accumulated a treasure trove of medical data.

We might therefore think of blockchain as a potential enabler to healthy longevity. This development has profound implications for economic growth and also represents a massive opportunity for innovation based on high-quality data and medical research.

Japan is currently building what we call “Society 5.0,” a smart society where the innovations of “Industry 4.0”, accumulated big data and cutting-edge technologies are incorporated. This vision presents a model where anybody can live a healthy, long life through innovation.

The potential impact of a decentralized, patient-centric health records system is substantial. Healthcare providers with a full view of patients’ medical history could provide more personalized treatment and avoid duplicating services.

Blockchain can help overcome Japan’s ageing population challenge and promote healthy longevity, driving the way forward for super-aged societies all over the world.

Environment

Most nuclear power plants have shut down in Japan, leading to the country’s energy self-sufficiency rate plummeting from 20.2% in 2010 to less than 10% today – far lower than other developed nations.

The price of electricity in Japan has risen greatly due to soaring energy costs. Ordinary people are struggling to pay their bills.

Could blockchain play a role here?

Independent power producer Marubeni and LO3 Energy have started a pilot project in Japan where LO3 will administer an energy marketplace using blockchain to connect a number of Marubeni’s power production facilities, including renewables, with offices and factories around Japan in a virtual marketplace.

The project will simulate energy transactions to test the viability of the concept with the ultimate goal of creating a full-scale commercially operational network in the future.

Successful use of blockchain in the Brooklyn Microgrid and other projects around the world has shown Japan the potential for providing consumers with more energy choices and, crucially, improving efficiencies in energy usage

Finance

The nature of decentralization means blockchain suffers from higher latency and lower throughput, resulting in the famous scalability problem that many talented developers are still trying to solve.

Bitcoin processes 4.6 transactions per second; Visa does around 1,700 transactions per second.

Despite that, blockchain is fast becoming ubiquitous in large and small organizations alike. A study published by Tata Communications in 2018 showed that 44% of organizations in its survey are adopting blockchain.

Finance is a strong use case for blockchain. Cryptocurrency as a form of digital payment can help us overcome challenges such as security, transparency and other issues that have plagued the financial sector.

Using cryptocurrency speeds up and simplifies transactions such as cross-border payments or international remittances.

Transactions are immutable and can be processed without the need for a third party – all transactions are recorded, which means they can be easily verified by regulators and auditors.

Cryptocurrency is already disrupting many sectors in finance including bonds, equities and debt.

Cryptocurrency has a bright future as digital cash. We are moving towards a tokenized economy. The tech isn’t going to overthrow banks, but it is going to make a difference.

Taking crypto mainstream

Liquid is a leading global fintech company founded in 2014 that provides trading, exchange, and financial services powered by blockchain technology. We recently announced the first close of an on-going Series C funding that puts Liquid’s valuation at over US$1 billion, establishing us as one of only two tech unicorns in Japan’s startup space within a short span of five years.

We envision a world in which anybody can buy cryptocurrency and where cryptocurrency and digital assets become a natural part of our lives. Liquid is a secure cryptocurrency platform, providing a safe haven to cryptocurrency investors in a ruthless emerging market.

We do this by taking a pro-regulatory approach. Regulation and security measures are key drivers to making crypto mainstream.

We want to work with regulators to make sure this technology is applied pragmatically and fairly, so that it may benefit as many people as possible.

There must be a level of trust between us and our customers. The blockchain space has been very much like the Wild West in the past, with bad actors allowed to go about their business with limited oversight. As the sector matures, so these wrongdoers become weeded out, paving the way for true adoption of this technology that is going to play such an important role in our lives.

 

This content is not financial advice and should not form the basis of any financial investment decisions nor be seen as a recommendation to buy or sell any good or product. Trading cryptocurrency is complex and comes with a high risk of losing money, particularly if you trade on leverage. You should carefully consider whether trading cryptocurrencies is right for you and take the time to learn how trading works and decide how much money you are prepared to lose.

WRITTEN BY

Mike Kayamori

CEO and Co-founder of Liquid.