A multitude, even an infinity of trajectories are still possible for blockchain technology. However, it seems to be taking hold, as announced, as one of the new cornerstones of the technical infrastructure of the global Web. The blockchain will be everywhere and in all industries: healthTech, Legaltech, LuxTech, AgriTech, Edutech, etc. And of course Fintech.
Also when it comes to talking about the future of the blockchain, I do not venture into prediction but always in this zone of near certainty (absolute certainty does not exist) in terms of trajectory.
Blockchain: an infrastructural technology for real use
Blockchain is an infrastructural technology. A technology at the service of human beings animated by various intentions. The “Layers 1“, players in the main architecture of the blockchain, are therefore technological overlays, more or less complex variants of the same infrastructure.
Throughout human history, infrastructure technologies have consistently led to the creation of an ecosystem of application technologies around them. Moreover, without much reward most often for their father creator. The inventor of the wheel probably won nothing unlike those who developed trade and empires thanks to it. Ditto for the steam engine or drilling technology. Unlike the companies that have been able to exploit them and give birth to great industrial fortunes.
The same goes for the Internet. The civilian and military researchers who invented the Internet are unknown, yet today we are all customers of digital giants like Facebook-Meta, PayPal, Tencent, Google, Alibaba, Amazon & co. All of these services are based on the Internet and its multiple additional infrastructural technological layers. The same goes for virtual reality. Facebook-Meta’s OCULUS, like all VR headsets, are interfaces: here we are not talking about the technology itself but about an access door to this infrastructure technology.
Ultimately, these infrastructure technologies have only two possible alternatives: implementation or disappearance. The contemporary is always aware of the technologies of the moment but no one looks at the cemetery of the latter, dead for lack of use. We only remember those who have succeeded in creating an ecosystem of services and applications and therefore a use rooted in reality.
Layer 1, first step towards the application layer
Blockchain protocols such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Fantom, Algorand, Cosmos, Polygon, Avax, Massa, Solana, Tezos, Elrond, Terra (RIP) etc. – layers 1 – are in competition to play the leading roles in the world of tomorrow. There is room for coexistence because the properties are different. However, they are in competition to create these usage ecosystems around them and try to become the benchmark blockchains in their segment. It is around these blockchains that the web3 giants of tomorrow are or will be created. The top players in health, gaming, e-sport, education, transport, finance, web3 are in the making or in the making and will naturally be application services.
Nevertheless, the token economy has opened up a new dimension for infrastructure technologies. Technology becomes intrinsically remunerative to the extent of its use. The owner of the native token of a layer 1 holds, in a way, an intellectual property right on the technology giving him the right to a revenue mechanism shared with all the owners, indexed on use. Imagine that you invested in the H20 token of the “steam engine” project in the MECA 3.0 era and took a few pennies for each revolution of the piston of an engine. The deal would be nice. But, despite everything, without possible comparison with the one who produces a high added value manufacture thanks to the underlying technology.
In finance the comparison could be made between Visa and Goldman Sachs. Although Visa is not an infrastructure technology, it is a service closer to the infrastructure than Goldman Sachs, which is one of the very many investment banks that use, among other things, Visa. In Q1 2022, Goldman Sachs’ turnover was 14.3 billion dollars against 7.20 billion for Visa. The application is the direction of the history of any technology.
Web3: The New World Analogy
If web3 is a new field of technological applications, then it is interesting to draw a parallel with the discovery of a new world. Let’s draw an analogy between the conquest of the web3 and the conquest of America from the 15th to the 19th century. The first settlers first groped, made contact, fought and then quickly laid the infrastructure of what was to become: cities, roads, bridges, railways, etc. Blockchains are the cities, the roads, the railways of the web3. And between 2014 and 2020, web3 entrepreneurs were the settlers who came to lay the infrastructure for this new world. And as for the colonies, these are in competition with each other to gain the upper hand. Others will follow but now that the infrastructures are in sufficient number and performance, it is a new wave of settler entrepreneurs who set out to conquer this new world to bring the application layer and services essential to its adoption and growth.
But this new world, like America before it with Europe, is not for all that disconnected from the old world. The applications that will take the leadership of web3 are those that will bridge these two worlds and will be able to bring people to frictionless use. And this new world needs health, insurance, logistics, education, legal… and payment services. That too is ballistics.
Blockchain, the possibility of ethical finance
As the saying goes before the hour, it is not the hour and after the hour it is no longer the hour. Each industry knows its momentum, his great years of change. We are in those of means of payment whether it is web1, web2 or web3. Moreover, the Gafam are not mistaken and everyone wants their share of a cake promised to growth (+30% by 2023).
But it is also, and above all, the possibility of an ethical and united approach to payment rooted in the economic model. A profound paradigm shift in financial capitalism: make as much profit as possibletowards a new paradigm: make as much profit as possible to share. Create an efficient, profitable and virtuous payment system. The three pillars of the new economic equation: meeting needs, generating profit, solving societal challenges. Equation, in my opinion, which has become essential to any form of economic sustainability.
If the uncertainties are numerous and the challenges immense, the adventure promises to be exciting.
We are only at the beginning of the history of this new world.