Many years ago, exceptional services were revolutionized with the advent of the internet, and then came mobile computing.
Today, it seems that the next revolution lies in Blockchain. While the general public could conceive what the internet and mobile services would bring about, and many are at a loss as to what Blockchain means to them. Much of the mystery lies in the fact that moving a service to Blockchain will change the way the service works behind the scenes. How it will change our lives is definitely less obvious.
The main underlying change is the concept of decentralization. Many services we use depend on central authorities such as an identity card from the government or a credit card from a bank. The downside of a central authority is one of trust. What happens if banks limit how we use our money?
This is where Blockchain promises change. Many services can be decentralized, with trust being delegated to the Block-chain.
To further understand the ‘coming wave’, Steph Mekwuye, Founder/CEO Eka Consult and Strategist Blockchain Africa helped us put some questions into perspective.
1. What do you think will be the effect of new crypto funds entering the blockchain space
Institutional investments in blockchain based currencies (often dubbed crypto-currencies) is at its infancy. Most investors are retail, individual investors. As the regulatory environment becomes clearer, we shall see new structures that cater for the institutions, investments’ space, and to large extent these will mirror what we have in the fiat world (bonds, futures, derivatives, etc.).
2. Is every asset destined to become liquid on the blockchain
Not all crypto assets are meant to be liquid and tradable. In fact, you can programmatically design your token not to be tradable if you want or to put time restrictions on when and how it will be traded. Liquidity of crypto-assets at exchanges and peer-to-peer is not a panacea. We see that a lot of crypto-assets are used as utility tokens as they enable and empower services for the whole ecosystem – storage, compute, communication. We see that this will continue and the market has capacity and depth to accommodate both utility and liquid tokens
3. When do you think we shall be able to see more blockchain standards
These are early days, but discussions and early work has begun, The advent of very scale consortia, from hyperledger and EEA to R3, is a first step towards standardization of blockchain technology. As we understand more and experience more we shall see standards emerging.
4. Could you please enlight more about the different economic models behind tokens. And what makes a good token in this case
A token can be a utility, a security, a hybrid between the two. There is no good or bad. Tokens are minted, or generated, in the first place to serve a purpose. The community endorses and supports the purpose, hence acquiring the tokens as a way to support the purpose. There are over 1600 tokens in the market, most tradable. Economic models for tokens range from buy and hold to use as a service utility token to get access to common resources (storage, compute, etc.). We see some tokens coming to the market that are pegged to national fiat currencies (e.g., US dollar) and shall continue as a trend. A lot of tokens in the liquid markets are purely speculative but most derive their value from utility.
5. Do you think countries and in this case central banks have the capacity to create their own crypto-currencies?
Yes, it is possible. Discussions in central banks in major economies are happening and the case for a national crypto-currency (e.g., a crypto-dollar) is something that we could see in the years to come. Central banks have the capacity to issue them, but utility and market stability mechanisms need to be in place for wide scale adoption and maximum economic effect to the society.
The original Blockchain Africa Conference is coming to Lagos this May, and you can get your tickets from here.