Blockchain, what is it good for?

In 2009, Satoshi Nakamoto released a paper titled Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System. Its promise was for a peer-to-peer electronic cash system that allowed online payments without going through financial institutions.

At its core is a software called blockchain. The first successful use case for blockchain was bitcoin (uppercase ‘B’ for the software, lowercase for the money). Bitcoin evolved from a digital collectable into the world’s first public money and the most popular cryptocurrency valued at over $1 Trillion U.S. dollars market capital value in the first half of 2021.

Among other things, bitcoin and some other cryptocurrencies hold genuine promise for unbanked communities and those who rely on remittances to survive. All run on some incarnation of the original Blockchain system designed by Satoshi.

Some believe that bitcoin et al. has created regulatory and financial challenges for the world to solve. However, some see opportunities for blockchain to solve problems in other areas outside money and finance.

The underpinning leap in logic could be described as follows – Bitcoin has proved to be a revolutionary innovation in digital money. It has several positive features, including zero hacks in 12 years, immutability and fungibility, transparency etc. How can this technology be applied to other problems to improve our economy and indeed deliver a positive to humanity?

This paper seeks to shine a light on what might be an answer to that question. To understand the potential magnitude of projects underpinned by blockchain, we need to first dig into bitcoin to understand what made it a success.

Blockchain, what is it good for?