Medici Ventures, the blockchain technology arm of online retailer Overstock.com, has added bitcoin consumer financial service platform Ripio to its portfolio of strategic blockchain-focused investments through participation in Ripio’s Series A financing. In addition to Medici Ventures’ equity position, the blockchain-focused subsidiary of Overstock.com will take an observer’s seat in Ripio’s board of directors meetings.
Big Wall Street companies are using a complicated technology called blockchain to further increase the already lightning-fast speed of international finance. But it’s not just the upper crust of high finance who can benefit from this new technology.
Most simply, a blockchain is an inexpensive and transparent way to record transactions. People who don’t know each other – and therefore may not trust each other – can securely exchange money without fear of fraud or theft. Major aid agencies, nonprofits and startup companies are working to extend blockchain systems across the developing world to help poor people around the world get easier access to banks for loans or to protect their savings.
Blockchain networks tend to support principles, like open access and permissionless use, that should be familiar to proponents of the early internet. To protect this vision from political pressure and regulatory interference, blockchain networks rely on a decentralized infrastructure that can’t be controlled by any one person or group. Unlike political regulation, blockchain governance is not emergent from the community. Rather, it is ex ante, encoded in the protocols and processes as an integral part of the original network architecture. To be a part of a community supporting a blockchain is to accept the rules of the network as they were originally established.
Most of the world’s largest banks and financial institutions have already allocated billions of dollars to the development of Blockchain technology. The question remains, will Blockchain technology revolutionize the finance and legal industries in the same way the Internet changed the media industry, once and for all?
Whether you see Bitcoin as the key to a free, utopian form of economy, or as a regulation-free mystery of the digital age, it has, to this point, thrived outside of the standard rules that dictate how finance traditionally functions. Blockchain, the technology that has enabled Bitcoin to remain a maverick of the fintech industry, exists on fundamental security systems that make traditional regulators unnecessary. But blockchain, and by extension Bitcoin, may not live outside of the reach of financial regulators for much longer.
Blockchain is shaking-up entire industries as one of the most disruptive technologies of today. From banking and insurance to agriculture, energy, healthcare, and media, it is disrupting entire industries and is about to transform global supply chains, thanks to SAP Ariba. The company plans to leverage blockchain across its cloud-based applications and business network to upend the way goods and services are traded.
How much do you know about your medical identity? You know you’re generally in good health. You know your height and your weight. You know if you have any chronic conditions. But can you remember how many tetanus shots you’ve had? Do you know which percentile your height placed you in for each year of life? Could you tell your doctor the exact amount of time you’ve been taking a prescription medication to the day?
For Silicon Valley, the headline was sweet nectar: Google DeepMind, the world’s hottest artificial intelligence lab, embraces the blockchain, the endlessly fascinating idea at the heart of the bitcoin digital currency.
But the buzzwords bely the reality. The lab’s re-imagining of the blockchain has very little to do with AI—or the blockchain, for that matter.
The technology’s implications for interoperability, privacy, claims processing and more are intriguing. But many challenges must be addressed before wider applications become possible.