On October 30, 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto deployed the very first version of the Bitcoin protocol, a completely new form of digital currency based on cryptography and maths. This event went unnoticed by much of the world except for cryptography enthusiasts in obscure cypherpunk forums. Even they did not think much of Nakamoto’s creation. Since the late 80’s the world had seen various forms of digital currencies, most notably DigiCash and BitGold. None of them had succeeded because they failed to solve one of the hardest problems with digital currencies - the double spend problem.
Double spend happens when a person spends the same money more than once. For digital currencies, which are nothing more than a system of accounts and balances, it turned out to be extremely difficult to verify whether a user had double spent his or her money. It was analogous to counterfeit money in traditional fiat currencies. As a result, fraud was extremely common in the early avatars of digital currencies. Bitcoin was the first to solve this and it did so purely because of the technology powering it, which has come to be called the blockchain.
What the blockchain managed to achieve was much more than just a technological revolution, it was a social revolution as well. In essence, it created a system which incentivised a large group of people who have never met before to work together for the common good of the entire group. It removed the need for mutual trust between individuals while working together. This was something which had never been achieved in history before. And Bitcoin was it’s very first implementation. And we all know how that turned out. Currently trading at ~$1749 (as of 9th May 2017) per bitcoin, the currency has managed to thrive despite all the criticism levelled at it.
The Bitcoin blockchain managed to create a trustless system of managing accounts and balances of a financial ledger, without the need for a central intermediary or middleman - in this case a bank. It became exceedingly clear that the same technology could be applied to similar industries and systems which require a central middleman to maintain trust in the system. For example, take land ownership. In most nations, there are centralised government bodies responsible for maintaining records of land ownership, and for intermediating transfer of land between parties. In developing nations like India, there is a tendency for high degrees of corruption in such bodies. Unlawful encroachment of land by real estate mafias are a norm rather than exception. And there is absolutely no transparency into the dealings which go on behind the scenes.
Now imagine if land records could be maintained completely on an incorruptible blockchain. There would be no need for a middleman to do the same thing. Transactions could be near instantaneous and completely transparent to the public. Such systems have great potential for disrupting the existing order of things in both developed and developing societies. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. The world has not seen the first killer Blockchain app yet. Bitcoin is to blockchain what email was to the Internet. Now, slowly, we are starting to see the first wave of blockchain applications across a vast variety of fields.
Even world governments have started taking notice and many of them are in fact exploring the possibility of using the blockchain to streamline government processes. For example, India’s RBI just completed a full scale test of the blockchain for it’s accounting processes. All the signs point toward an explosion in blockchain implementation over the next few years. The increased transparency and incorruptibility that this will create should massively change the way society functions as well. The blockchain when combined with other emerging technologies such as AI, AR/VR etc could well hold the key to us taking the next stop forward in our journey as a civilisation.
This is why we are so excited about this technology and why we got together to create the Blockchained India community. We firmly believe that blockchain tech has massive potential to disrupt the existing social and infrastructural model in India and propel it into a new age of equality and prosperity. Our aim is to educate, evangelise, and support a community of blockchain enthusiasts and enable them to create disruptive decentralised applications which maximise social impact.
If you’re excited about what the blockchain can do, and want to learn more about how it works and how you can contribute towards building a decentralised future do sign up to our newsletter at blockchainedindia.com . We will be sending you all the latest updates from the blockchain world, along with tutorials and details about learn-ups that we will be organising.