I’ve reviewed how some of the world’s largest companies integrating blockchains into their operations and thinking about the technology to provide a starting point for assessing the role they might play in driving the adoption of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.
Jack Dorsey, co-founder/CEO of Twitter and Square, has been following Bitcoin since the whitepaper was published and has recently become quite active in the cryptocurrency space both professionally and personally.
When asked about the possibility of integrating Lightning Network
payments into Twitter, he replied:
“ I think there’s a lot there, and it’s really compelling and something that we want to spend a lot more time on…we finally have technologies, more broadly at the blockchain level that I think can help us address some of the challenges we’re facing with Twitter including trust and identity, and certainly providing more economic incentive rather than just what Twitter provides today which is reach.
It is a pretty active conversation within the company and around the company, and we want to be smart about it and make sure that again, we’re building something that feels really simple and accessible and is timed in the right way. But it’s definitely something that I would be excited about and would love to see.”(36:28
Starbucks, along with Microsoft and the Boston Consulting group, is backing Bakkt
, a startup that aims to facilitate adoption of cryptocurrencies for the world’s largest financial institutions. Bakkt
is owned by ICE
, the owner of the New York Stock Exchange
Kroger, the United States’ second largest grocer by revenue, has abandoned Visa credit cards in over 200 stores
due to excessive fees charged by the payment processor. Shortly after the announcement was made, Anthony Pompliano tweeted an offer
to have the team from Morgan Creek Digital fly out to help them integrate Bitcoin’s Lightning Network as a payment option.
They’ve recently announced JPM Coin
, a private stablecoin backed by the U.S. dollar that is being tested for business-to-business payments in a small pilot group. Dimon believes that
one day JPMcoin could be used for consumer payments.
The Intel Select Solution for Blockchain
“helps organizations prepare blockchain infrastructure investments, generate excellent total cost of ownership with general-purpose hardware, and accelerate time to market with a turnkey solution optimized for important software libraries.”
Elon Musk (Tesla, SpaceX)
Elon Musk called Bitcoin “brilliant” in a podcast interview with Ark Invest
. He doesn’t believe it would be wise for Tesla to get involved with crypto, but his support for the technology could lead to future endeavors in this space.
2018 Industry Surveys
A Deloitte Survey
of over 1000 executives from seven countries across the world found that 74% of companies see a compelling business use case for blockchain technology. A KPMG survey of several hundred global leaders
in technology found that 48% of respondents feel it was “very likely/likely” that blockchains will change the way their companies do business in the next three years. 84% of respondents to PWC’s survey
are “actively involved with blockchain”.
Open Disruption, or the Rearchitecting of a Closed Status Quo?
Ledgers and money are technologies that serve as key foundations for our social institutions, so it’s crucial to distinguish between the separate trends at play right now.
Some companies are embracing public blockchains and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, working towards a radical rethinking of the way we interact with money, conduct business, and organize to achieve common goals. Others are using permissioned chains primarily to increase the efficiency of existing operations. Some firms are experimenting with public and permissioned systems.
Who will play a more significant role? The Dorseys, Ohanians, Krogers, Starbucks, and Fidelities that are embracing open protocols, or the J.P. Morgans and Walmarts that are rolling out more centralized products? To what extent will Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Amazon embrace public blockchains, and what sort of consumer facing applications will they build with them? Will we see significant interaction between permissioned chains and public ones?
It’s easy to dismiss permissioned blockchains as meaningless and I don’t find them very exciting. But the fact is that the companies working with them have the power to shape the perceptions and behaviors of the general public, especially in the developed world, who currently doesn’t care much about “decentralization”, monetary theory, or central banking policy.
Adoption isn’t just about building innovative technology. It’s driven heavily by psychological and social factors: trust, greed, passion, fear, and tribalism. The systems we choose to build and the stories we tell about them will determine the role cryptocurrencies and blockchains play in our lives. The manner in which the world’s largest companies use blockchain technology will have a significant influence on its evolution and long-term societal impact.
“Will this be technology vs. humanity or will it be technology for humanity?