The many big companies disrupted by blockchain have now made it a priority to harness this technology.
As is typically the case when faced with disruption, large companies are seeking to defend their territory by adopting the very tool that threatens them. With blockchain there’s a lot at stake. The global market for blockchain-related products and services is about $700 million and is projected to exceed $60 billion annually in 2024, according to Wintergreen Research.
These firms are developing products and services based on blockchain’s digital-ledger open-source technology that can be accessed and adapted by anyone. Blockchain enables global transactions between parties without going through large internet companies to market goods and services, connect, communicate, execute transactions or process payments.
Thus, blockchain users don’t need to pay large concerns for these services (nor do they need to pay bank fees when paying with bitcoin, lumens, dash or other cryptocurrencies that use blockchain as their transmission vehicle). In rushing into blockchain, these large firms are seeking to keep users of such functions within their realm to keep from being disintermediated.
In the parlance of blockchain proponents, these companies are known as “centralized authorities.” But the whole idea behind blockchain, proponents say, is to decentralize the authority that goes with controlling internet commerce and internet use in general. So blockchain, at its core, is referred to as a decentralized system — where power lies with individuals for peer-to-peer transactions rather than with these centralized authorities profiting mightily from acting as intermediaries.
Still, large companies seeking to retain their dominance are neck-deep in blockchain development and investment. For example, IBM and Microsoft are leading global blockchain development projects in 2018, according to Wintergreen Research and Juniper Research. Those big firms are offering blockchain-related tools for clients to use in experimenting with digital ledgers in their cloud services. Accenture, the third-leading firm, is also focused on cloud-services development.
Amazon has also started to build blockchain applications, seeking to harness its potential ahead of online retail competitors. Further, Amazon is offering blockchain functionality as a discrete service, competing for that market slice with IBM and Oracle, which has been unveiling blockchain offerings in recent months.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has assigned several top executives to blockchain development efforts as the company examines functions involving decryption and cryptocurrency, an area seemingly removed from its social networking service and controversial personal-data issues.
Yet an overarching development concern for Facebook may be related to the blockchain raison d’etre, loudly voiced by early proponents, of retaining data privacy. Facebook, long under legal and reputational fire for breaches of users’ personal data, is fending off criticism for a new breach, revealed in late September, affecting 50 million users.