What is The Blockchain Anyway? 4 1306

Everyone’s familiar with cryptocurrency by now. Bitcoin and Ethereum are starting to become part of our everyday vocabulary. And so is the word “blockchain.” Everyone’s heard of it, but exactly what is the blockchain anyway and how will it impact our lives?

The blockchain is a revolutionary technology that’s being described by many as “the new internet.” Its implications have repercussions on many (if not, all) industries and areas, thanks to several of its unique qualities.

Think of The Blockchain As a Spreadsheet

Rather like turning on a lightswitch or zapping through your television, you don’t necessarily need to know how the blockchain works to understand it. But, perhaps one of the easiest ways is by thinking of it as a spreadsheet. Let’s see:

It started with Microsoft Excel.

You created a new spreadsheet and then emailed it to your colleague, who then emailed it to the next collaborator. They would edit, update and send it back. Great.

Except that you could end up with countless versions of the same document and never know which one was the latest. Lots of emails, lots of confusion, plenty of room for improvement.

Enter Google Docs.

Google Docs allows many people to work on the same spreadsheet at the same time. This does away with the email chains and the countless updated versions. But what it doesn’t do is allow for widespread, simultaneous distribution.

That’s where the blockchain comes in.

Everyone can have access to the spreadsheet at once, whenever they want to; providing the ultimate in transparency and a few more things besides.

The Blockchain is Incorruptible

Co-Author of the Blockchain Revolution, Don Tapscott, describes the blockchain as “an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions, but virtually everything of value.” While the blockchain is first and foremost associated with cryptocurrency, its real power lies in its technology. All of the blockchain’s records are immutable because they are shared over all participating parties’ computers.

Consider the implications of this for one moment. If the blockchain was used to record events and transactions in the supply chain, corruption would be impossible. If the blockchain were applied to elections, forging votes would be a think of the past.

The Blockchain is Decentralized

We hear the word “decentralized” associated with the blockchain a lot. But what exactly are the implications of that? The fact that no data is located in any single location, or owned by any single person is another reason that its records are tamper-proof. If any changes are made at any point in the ledger, they happen across the entire network in real time, just like crypto transactions.

According to Block Geeks, “Decentralization means the network operates on a user-to-user (or peer-to-peer) basis. The forms of mass collaboration this makes possible are just beginning to be investigated.” The blockchain, then, could have a huge impact on many areas, from the sharing economy to identity management.

How is The Blockchain Currently Being Used?

The blockchain is currently being used in many industries and will start to leave its stamp on more and more. Take legal documents, for example. If these could all be managed with blockchain, we would no longer need hard copy passports, birth certificates, or anything else; everything could be digitized.

When it comes to banking, the decentralized nature of the blockchain would mean that your money would never be in one account only. Your finances would be safe should one institution go bankrupt, because the records would be distributed over many participating parties.

Sooner or later, most businesses will rely on the blockchain to make their transactions more efficient and secure. There will no no further concerns about data breaches or loss of information, and every record will be public. Blockchain technology is set to be as disruptive to businesses around the world as the internet, allowing us to achieve speed, efficiency and transparency. Are you ready?

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Christina is a technology and business communicator who has worked with high profile ICOs and blockchain influencers to break industry news.

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Stakester Brings New Experiences and Royalties to Gamers with NFTs Comments Off on Stakester Brings New Experiences and Royalties to Gamers with NFTs 419

A cheat code NFT allows owners to accrue money, prizes and royalties in the context of popular games.

On Tuesday, Stakester announced its intention to launch a VIP pass in the form of NFTs that it says will enhance the experience for users of its popular gaming app. 

The app, which pairs gamers with real-life opponents, allows players to stake real cash and prizes on their competitive skills in popular games like FIFA 21 and Call of Duty: Warzone. It’s seen significant growth since its launch in 2020, and touts 100,000 members across 31 countries. 

With the forthcoming NFT drop, users will now unlock the potential for larger prizes, access to VIP arenas, and 50% of royalties on the secondary market.

“The NFTs embody Stakester’s vision of delivering electrifying gaming experiences through the thrill of competition,” says Tom Fairey, Founder and CEO of Stakester. “NFT holders will help us shape new, undreamt-of entertainment experiences as gaming becomes ever more powerful and immersive.”

Two levels of NFTs will be offered. At .1 and .25 ETH, respectively, the barrier to entry is high, but Stakester is hoping gamers will see the value of layered experiences and unlocking additional incentives with real-world value. 

“The idea of earning rewards, just like a normal reward scheme but built around NFTs, is totally fit for the future,” says Mike White, CEO and Strategist of immersive entertainment marketing agency, Lively.  “The whole idea of royalties is truly exciting.” 

Stakester’s 50% royalty incentive, Fairey believes, will create stakeholders out of the players on his platform.

 “As well as the increase in gaming utility, the NFT drops provide Stakester users with a chance to invest in the future of the company and, for VIP Legendary holders, there’s also an opportunity to benefit from a royalty share from certain competitions and to make a passive income from NFTs, regardless of whether they go up in value or not,” he says. “Stakester is one of the only platforms to offer this kind of bonus.”

White points out that Gala Games is doing something similar with Nodes which allow gamers to receive rewards like NFTs when they contribute meaningfully to the Gala Network.

He predicts that legacy gaming companies will be adopting similar NFT models, but the winners in the NFT gaming race are hard to predict, particularly since there’s so much attention around NFTs that it’s hard to differentiate between hype and long-term value. 

“I’m sure it will be an immediate success,” he says. “Will it be a long-term thing? We can only wait and see.”

Why Is Everyone Talking About NFTs? Comments Off on Why Is Everyone Talking About NFTs? 48

In this writer’s opinion the NFT hype is warranted — but not for the reason most people are investing. 

For those who’ve been in the space since Bitcoin’s early surge, you’ll remember the Initial Coin Offering (ICO) boom of 2017. The crowdfunding vehicle, which mirrored an IPO on the public market, brought with it massive amounts of investment into the blockchain space that seemed to mirror Bitcoin’s rapidly increasing value. 

In retrospect, none of it made sense. 

With all the hype, the investment in the space didn’t match due diligence. As of August 2018, investors had lost nearly $100M in ICO exit scams, a major reason we no longer hear about ICOs. 

From there, crowdfunding through token sales was rebranded alongside SEC regulation as Security Token Offerings (STOs). Additional fundraising iterations to enter the scene are Initial DEX Offerings (IDOs) and Initial Exchange Offerings (IEOs).

NFTs are having a similar moment to the immature and potentially reckless ICO market of 2017. The danger can be credited to a mix of hype and a widely unregulated environment with various points of entry and gatekeepers that are not incentivized to shore up fraud. 

As a result, many purchasers of NFTs are falling victim to a spectrum that spans undeserving projects on the mild end and outright scams at the extreme. Meanwhile, hackers are exploiting the unregulated environment. 

Just yesterday, $3 million in NFTs were stolen via an Instagram phishing scam. 

This writer, however, is still bullish on NFTs — just not the ones that are getting all the attention.

NFTs represent a concrete entry-point into the blockchain with a tangible utility and infinite disruptive implications. 

Here are a few.

Digital Assets as Social Proof 

As a Millennial, I personally have a hard time understanding the notion of owning and assigning value to a digital asset, but my kids don’t. 

I’ve written about how Gen Z has already adopted the concept of social proof in digital environments by assigning socially relevant value to digital assets like video game skins. 

As Gen Z ages and becomes an increasingly powerful consumer population, this experience will matter. Whether or not their purchase behavior translates to adulthood remains to be seen, but our kids are already leveraging digital assets in the metaverse to exhibit their position in the social hierarchy in the same way that my generation assigned value to Jansport-brand backpacks. 

Their concept of digital assets will be fundamentally different from ours, and NFTs are likely to benefit. 

But Why Are NFTs Relevant to Me Now?

Social proof is far from the most interesting use case for NFTs. 

In the near-term, NFTs can be utilized to store sale information of physical goods on the blockchain in order to eliminate nefarious actors in fraud-riddled industries like fine wine and art. 

Moreover, NFTs can disrupt any industry with a substantial secondary market. By coding royalties into the smart contract of NFTs, original sellers of wine, art and other trade-susceptible brands and industries can ensure they’ll capture a fee anytime an item is transferred. 

This solves a major problem for creators like photographers, artists and musicians that are notoriously underpaid in comparison to the value they create for brokers. It also has the potential to cut out middlemen like auction houses, record labels, and galleries to democratize the creator economy. 

Other Innovators Have Introduced Creative Use Cases for NFTs

Gary Vaynerchuk utilizes NFTs as tickets for events and other value-adds to his community. Forbes introduced a series of NFT Billionaires that will update alongside the real-time NYSE to gamify their user’s NFT experience in a way that’s brand-relevant. Foxies.art is using a gamified version of NFTs to fundraise blockchain education for women. 

The utility of NFTs is confined only by the imagination of our innovators. Whether or not NFT headlines today will remain relevant is yet to be seen, but one thing is certain: the disruption is only beginning. 

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