If the internet augured a world of frictionless information sharing, can blockchain augur a world of frictionless value transfer? A standards war – or better still a use case knife fight – is being waged among blockchain technology companies large and small, as well as a raft of consultants who are pitching every novel blockchain use case to anyone who will listen. The industry and world-changing outcomes that are promised are few and far between in the real world, with the exception of blockchain’s so-called “killer app,” Bitcoin and its digital currency brethren. And yet, however fleeting or threatening the prospect of a low-friction economy may seem to established players, blockchain is here to stay and its power to transform, augment and disrupt may very well surpass the internet’s.
A growing cadre of people are recognizing that blockchain is in fact the “killer app” of the digital currency era, going as far as likening it to a foundational technology. A growing number of entrepreneurs and investors are crowding in to the blockchain space all seeking to answer the core question: “If blockchain could not exist without the internet, what could not exist without blockchain?” It is this wave of creation, much like the early days in any emerging industry, that will drive the most profound change in the global economy minting a new generation of Tech Titans – call them Blockchain Billionaires. In 1994, when Amazon was founded setting a young Jeff Bezo’s on a path toward an $83 billion personal fortune, it was easy for retailing stalwarts like the 124-year-old Sears, which is wrestling with financial risks, along with the equally troubled J.C. Penney to dismiss the concept of online commerce or assume that “try before you buy” consumer behavior was a steady state. It turns out that neither assumption was constant with some existential consequences for traditional retailers that ignored opportunity’s knock.