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Even as the euphoria surrounding cryptocurrencies have dissipated over the past year, and with crypto markets reeling from an extended bearish streak, there is no denying that what was once a fringe technology, has since made a significant dent in the global financial landscape.
With a market cap in excess of $1.2 trillion, and hundreds of billions in daily trading volumes, crypto is a force to be reckoned with. It’s no wonder why legacy banking and financial giants, along with new age fintech startups, which once ridiculed this concept, are now going all-out to capitalize on it.
While much of the frenzy surrounding digital currencies have been driven by their speculative nature, and ability to create unprecedented fortunes overnight, there is another side to this market, which focuses on utility and real world value, which are increasingly coming under the limelight.
It’s 2023, and yet the process of remitting money across borders is as cumbersome, inefficient, and expensive as it was in the early-90s. Not only is this remarkably slow, involving multiple intermediaries, checks, and compliance measures, it also quite the racket, with the said banks and intermediaries making off with criminally wide spreads on each transaction.
Enter cryptocurrencies. Today, if you want to remit your hard earned money to your family in another country, pay for business purchases, or anything else, all you need is the receiver’s crypto address, and the transaction can be settled within minutes.
People can now buy cryptocurrency anytime, and from anywhere in the world, from some of the most reputed banks and financial institutions, making it a preferred choice for remittances.
This is further done for a fraction of the spread, fees, and other charges that come with legacy remittance systems, with added privacy and security features.
2. Digital Identity
Traditional systems of identity rely extensively on centralized authorities such as governments and corporations.
This is often rife for abuse, data breaches, and invasion of privacy, but with the blockchain technology that powers crypto, your digital identity will be on a decentralized ledger, secure and tamper-proof.
Everything from your name, date of birth, and social security number, to your driver’s license, credit scores, and criminal records can be hosted on the blockchain, for quick seamless verifications when required, and with no centralized authority having access to any of this information.
3. Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs)
While not widely known, decentralized autonomous organizations are certainly yet to live up to their enormous potential.
As the name suggests, a DAO is a decentralized organization that operates based on the rules encoded on a computer program, and is managed by token holders who make key decisions, and vote on the direction of the organization.
With no centralized authority at the helm, the instances of fraud, abuse, and scams are substantially lower, and with token holders making all key decisions and sharing profits, their incentives are perfectly aligned for the long-term viability, and collective good of the organization.
Despite the massive potential of this technology, it is yet to make a major splash that could propel it to widespread adoption. Things, however, could start to change over the course of this decade, with exciting new applications coming to the fore.
4. Real Estate
If there is one industry that is particularly ripe for a digital, crypto, and blockchain-induced disruption, it is real estate, where legacy systems, processes, and frameworks still rule the roost, with multiple intermediaries extracting a significant chunk of the value, without any contributions of their own.
Imagine a real estate market where property ownership is geotagged, and information securely embedded in the blockchain. Which can then be bought, sold, and traded fully digitally with buyers from across the globe, with low fees and regulatory issues.
Now imagine the same property that can be tokenized and sold in small chunks to multiple investors, who can now share in the rental income, while voting and collectively making decisions pertaining to the property. This is the future that lies ahead with the convergence of blockchain, crypto, and real estate.
5. Equity Crowdfunding
While equity crowdfunding has gained pace in recent years, it still remains quite small relative to the larger angel investing and VC industry.
This can largely be attributed to the ‘Accredited Investor’ rules that keep a vast majority of average investors away from the lucrative market of early-stage startup investing. This, however, is all set to change with token and initial coin offerings meeting equity crowdfunding.
Startups have access to a larger global pool of potential investors, while investors can deploy funds in some of the most promising startups. The walled-garden that was once the venture capital industry is now all set to be pierced by average retail investors.
The spectacular run-up and subsequent slump in the global crypto markets over the past two years was nothing but a mere teaser.
A teaser of the remarkable future that lies ahead, as the disruptive forces of digital transformation, blockchain technology, and artificial intelligence start to converge, unlocking billions, or even trillions of dollars in value across countries and industries.