The blockchain world has changed radically over the past year and is slowly coming into the mainstream. But while more people know what blockchain is, few understand how it functions in everyday life and its potential use cases. Fortunately, awareness is growing due to the evolving nature of blockchain user-friendliness through dApps and cryptocurrency.
Blockchain’s scalability problem became apparent in late 2017, when Bitcoin’s surging popularity resulted in transactions that took almost a day, often costing as much as $28 in fees.
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Scalability issues are not limited to Bitcoin: the late 2017 popularity of the Ethereum game CryptoKitties generated delays and usability issues for many other unrelated Ethereum tokens and applications.
Blockchain enthusiasts may be willing to endure unpredictable setbacks and fluctuating fees, but potential mainstream adopters may only embrace blockchain when it becomes faster and reliable.
There’s currently no easy fix to the blockchain scalability challenge. Ethereum plans to embrace a more energy-efficient proof-of-stake protocol later 2018 and discussed sharding networks to improve agility and speed.
Many startups are experimenting with next-generation blockchain protocols to solve the scalability crisis. Dispatch Labs is developing parallel on-chain and off-chain networks. A Delegated Asynchronous Proof of Stake protocol governs on-chain interactions, while smart contract hashes control access to their correlating off-chain data artifacts.
Blockchain’s practical applications are becoming apparent but still suffers from a mainstream image problem. Blockchains’ reputation has the truth: an early 2018 study found almost half of all Bitcoin transactions were associated with illegal activity.
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Phishing is unfortunately common in the world of ICOs and altcoins, siphoning off up to 10% of funds intended for ICOs.
In response, many companies are launching solutions to help newer blockchain users participate with confidence. Indisputable Labs’ Coral platform gives trust scores to cryptocurrency wallets based on their transaction history and association with known phishing-related addresses or funds.
Users considering a cryptocurrency transaction can get their partner’s trust score, helping them avoid phishers and scammers.
Empowering New Blockchain Builders
Denizens of the tech world with the expertise and resources have limited capacities to build blockchain tools that are user-friendly and responsive to the industry-specific needs of diverse sectors. This barrier between Silicon Valley and the rest of the world threatens to keep blockchain a curiosity rather than a powerful tool.
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Most companies launching user-friendly blockchain building tools are heavy-hitters: Amazon Web Services, for example, recently started a blockchain template program for users of the popular cloud service to launch business-ready blockchain networks quickly. IBM is launching a startup-friendly blockchain building and testing environment.
However, startups are making some of the blockchain world’s most innovative overtures to blockchain builders needing a user-friendly interface.
Startup DAOstack is launching a tool suite letting developers of any skill level build DAOs (Decentralized Autonomous Organizations). DAOs use the inherent reliability of blockchain smart contracts to redistribute hierarchal responsibilities, such as hiring or setting salary levels, across a community of participating free agents instead.
DAOstack provides a user-friendly interface for newer DAO builders who want to use pre-vetted, reliable DAO governance modules. DAOstack founder Matan Field explains the project’s scope:
“The first principle of designing the DAO stack was not to build a specific protocol or a specific application, but rather to build the soil, the ground from which a whole ecosystem can grow and thrive.”
Blockchain’s full potential won’t be realized until innovators from all industries can use and trust it, but the future is promising as tangible progress is made every day.
Cover Photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash
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