The timing is perfect for blockchain's entrance into the mainstream, as more businesses are exploring ways to use the new technology
The distributed ledger technology that underpins cryptocurrencies has been around for almost a decade, but it took a long time before people realized the potential it has. Once it became clear that blockchain is much more than just an abstract base for Bitcoin, it was only a matter of time before it reached mainstream adoption.
However, the decentralization and democratization blockchain brings seemed to be a much harder sell than originally thought. A lack of understanding from regulators and heavy criticism from economists kept blockchain in a very small and specific niche.
To break the mould it was constrained to, blockchain needed three things — institutional support, good marketing, and real-world usability.
While many crypto purists rolled their eyes at the thought of state-run agencies and financial institutions entering the industry, every cent of corporate and governmental money that went into blockchain increased its reach by tenfold.
People tend to cling to the familiar, and having such an abstract thing such as blockchain just float around without any institutional support just didn't make it attractive enough to explore. Add to that the association with the chaotic and volatile world of cryptocurrencies, and you've got yourself a very strong public sentiment that's very, very hard to change.
Governments dip their fingers into blockchain
Luckily, not all governments are the stuff of Kafkaesque bureaucratic nightmares. A very large number of them have actually been heavily invested in blockchain, running all kinds of programs and research into the way the technology can be used.
Several large cities in China have launched blockchain funds worth over $3 billion. Australia has put its entire sugar production industry on a blockchain in order to make it more competitive. The government of Estonia is currently upgrading its electronic ID management system with blockchain. Dubai is looking to put all of its government documents on a blockchain.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
While these efforts certainly prove that the blockchain is destined for great things, they failed to reach a very large number of people. They checked the institutional support box, but left the other, more important one, completely empty.
Facebook will be what pushes blockchain into the mainstream
On the other hand, Facebook's newly announced Libra project has everything — the name, the recognizability, and real-world usability.
It's been well over a year since the first rumours about Facebook's foray into cryptocurrencies were first revealed, and it couldn't have come at a better time. The industry is still relatively young, so there's room to grow and experiment. There's very little concrete regulation, so a project as large as Libra could easily shape new laws and legislation governing the market.
Apart from that, Facebook seems to have recognized the increase in interest people have in cryptocurrencies. Digital assets are no longer reserved for a small niche that thrives on speculation and volatility — people want to use cryptocurrencies to regain control of their financial freedom.
And while the idea itself isn't anything new, as companies such as Tether, Circle, and Paxos have all launched their low-fee stablecoins, the execution is unique. With a 2.5 billion-strong user base, Facebook can reach more people than all of the top 5 cryptocurrencies combined.
No matter how many users Facebook actually attracts, it will still introduce the concept of blockchain and cryptocurrencies to billions of people. The benefits of this will mostly be felt by smaller, up-and-coming companies that are using blockchain to solve real-world problems.
Blockchain ready to be opened to the general public
With access to blockchain now easier than ever, there are already a number of companies that have found real-world use cases for the technology. As blockchain helps facilitate digital relationships, it's the perfect platform to launch a social media network on.
Dreamr was among the first to realize the power blockchain has in creating and empowering communities. The company created a unique blockchain powered ecosystem for launching crowdfunding campaigns around individual dreams and ideas. The company was also the first to hold an STEO — a security token sold through an exchange offering.
Some companies have even used blockchain to support the sale and distribution of their physical products. Midascaps has tapped into the sports nutrition market with its nutritional supplement capsules. The company used a physical product, the Midas Capsules, to facilitate the creation and use of their utility token called MidasCoin.
Another example of a company utilizing blockchain's ability is ODEM. The Swiss startup is an on-demand, blockchain-based marketplace that aims to make education more affordable and accessible. The company's utility token, ODEM, helps students connect with educational hubs and professors.
Fieldcoin has developed a platform that uses blockchain to connect landowners with crowdfunding investors. It also enables cheap and fast transfers of land property to landowners and companies.
What all of these companies have in common, apart from creating a sharing economy, is the fact that the technology they use isn't their main marketing pitch. They're not blockchain companies — they're a social network, an educational hub, a real-estate agency, and a nutritional supplement company.
What all of this shows is that blockchain is no longer reserved for the few — its application has spread far beyond just cryptocurrencies. While the technology is still young, the possibilities it presents are endless. Its influence has expanded to the masses, making widespread adoption now closer than ever.