Cryptocurrencies continue to prove skeptics wrong, increasing in value and becoming more and more common each day — but it’s blockchain, the technology behind cryptocurrency transactions, that may have the most lasting impact on our day-to-day lives. Blockchain transactions move data incrementally in peer-to-peer networks; transaction records are kept in ledgers for transparency. This technology has changed not only the way companies in many industries approach data, but also how developers can write, market, and sell software.
Empowering Small Sellers in the Marketplace
Currently, many software developers have to use third-party payment systems to sell their products and services directly to companies and consumers. The current payment standard is PayPal, which almost all websites use as their preferred method of transaction. The catch, of course, is that PayPal takes a 2.9% cut on every transaction.
To circumvent this, online software marketplaces are beginning to support blockchain transactions instead. For example, Game Protocol, a “decentralized gaming ecosystem” that offers development and crowdfunding tools and hosts a game marketplace, accepts cryptocurrency transactions and enables software developers to sell their products directly to the market. Self-executing contracts facilitate payments between customers and developers — no middleman required. By empowering smaller development teams and individual developers, blockchain transactions have the potential to drastically change the hierarchy of the software industry.
Transparent, Multi-Functional Databases
Blockchain technology doesn’t just facilitate the transfer of money. The transparency of blockchain technology also raises possibilities for its use in databases. For example, GE’s Aviation Division is looking into how blockchain technology could revolutionize the aviation aftermarket. Through proof-of-concept testing, senior digital program manager Kim Harrington has determined how standards would need to be set as well as how legacy systems would need to be updated; however, if structured correctly, this new blockchain-based software could manage all of GE’s aviation inventory, sales tracking, and record keeping.
As companies like GE continue to prove that blockchain databases are not only functional but also cost-effective, firms should consider organizing their legacy systems so that they are ready to port to blockchain-based databases.
Hiring and Training Developers
The proliferation of blockchain technology in every industry is rapid — and developers can hardly keep up. When it comes to programmers who understand how to prepare legacy system or write new blockchain programs, there’s a serious human capital deficiency. Platforms are beginning to appear that empower those without technical knowledge to create their own blockchain programs, but these platforms are currently not robust enough to capture the full potential of this technology.
As a result, companies must appeal to and hire professionals with experience developing in blockchain and train current employees to become proficient in this new technology. Fortunately, this often doesn’t require major investment: Blockgeeks offers a four-hour course on blockchain development for less than $200, and IBM offers a two-hour class free of charge. As blockchain becomes increasingly common, it will be critical for software companies to have staff who understand and can develop blockchain technology.
What’s Next for Blockchain?
Blockchain may be well-known within certain industries and roles — cryptocurrency, IT, database management, etc. — but it has yet to become ubiquitous. However, blockchain is certain to further saturate the market and will soon become a necessary technology for companies and developers in every industry. Perhaps platforms that customize and democratize blockchain programs will arise, like Venmo did for peer-to-peer payments and Airbnb did for room sharing. But until that platform exists, software companies and application developers should take notice of blockchain and begin preparing for the coming revolution.