Bitcoin and blockchain use cases won’t be sexy, but will be essential

Tim Swanson on the blockchain's potential and what the future of crypto-coins might bring.


Researcher and author Tim Swanson originally built bitcoin mining equipment in China a couple of years ago, but as he explained in a recent interview, he’s moved beyond the trading aspects of bitcoin and now focuses on research and use cases. Swanson, who also works in business development at Melotic, a digital asset exchange, expressed some skepticism about the future of bitcoin as a currency and noted that the greatest potential in the technology lies in the blockchain:

“I’m fairly skeptical that what [bitcoin] can and will do is probably either overstated or overhyped. I think most of the actual use cases, especially with blockchains in general, will be very mundane and will be related to proof of existence, so things like notary services.

“If anyone’s looking for a particular use case, I’d probably talk about one called CAT, Consolidated Audit Trail. It’s related to the SEC requiring traders to put together a way to find out when trades take place. On any given day, there’s about 48 billion trades that take place under their purview, and putting together a system for this, they want to make it centralized. Maybe you can use blockchains in some kind of decentralized fashion for this, but the idea — it’s not a very sexy, headline-getting use case — but it’s something that’s particularly needed to ensure their transparency within the trading aspect of these different financial instruments globally.”

Swanson will host a free webcast — The Continued Existence of Bitcoin, Altcoins, Appcoins, and Commodity Coins — on Tuesday, December 2, to talk about the various coins being created and the legal and technical challenges facing the developer community. Though, he noted in our interview that he’ll cover topics appropriate for anyone interested in the technology:

“We’re going to look into why these things [altcoins, appcoins, commodity coins] are being created, what’s motivated and incentivized people to continue making these despite the fact that you do have bitcoin. Looking into the future a bit, I’ll address the different protocols being developed; what’s up with “bitcoin 2.0;” and a little bit about the history of the different coins and the trends — what didn’t play out, why they broke, and maybe some potential fixes with the hope that they can provide real utility and use cases to the world at large.”

You can register for the free webcast here, and you can listen to our interview in the SoundCloud player below.

You might also be interested in our upcoming event, Bitcoin & the Blockchain: An O’Reilly Radar Summit, being held in San Francisco on January 27, 2015. Register for the conference here — and, of course, bitcoin can be used to pay for registration.

Cropped image by Antana on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

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