Oftentimes, the first thought people jump to when they hear “blockchain” is either cryptocurrency or Bitcoin mining—and for good reason. Blockchain’s involvement in crypto is what’s been grabbing headlines, but I think this transcendent technology has the potential to play a much greater role in everyday life.
Blockchain delivers two fundamental attributes for data: accessibility and proof. With these attributes under the hood, blockchain has use cases in industries like real estate, healthcare, and government that I’m sure will be headline-worthy in the near future.
Most of us are familiar with blockchain in conjunction with mining and crypto, but there are loads of financial applications that could benefit from this tech. Blockchain inherently facilitates fast, scalable, secure, low-cost transactions on a distributed ledger without the need for an intermediary.
Cutting out intermediary parties is part of what makes blockchain-based transaction processing systems superior to what currently exists on the market. With this directness comes greater speed and increased transparency—qualities that both individuals and companies can appreciate when it comes to their finances.
This seems like a win-win solution, yet there’s still trepidation when it comes to adopting blockchain-based payment processing in a greater enterprise setting. Most likely, this can be chalked up to education, a common obstacle with plenty of new endeavors. Until there are enough resources put toward educating the general public about the diverse uses of blockchain, we’ll continue to see hesitation.
Another thing to consider is the fact that while many parts of the world don’t have access to traditional financial services, most global consumers 18 years or older have access to the Internet. Because of their accessibility, blockchain-based payment platforms and crypto create a new opportunity to expand the international payment systems and the global, digital marketplace. Not only do these have the potential to help people around the world by increasing their resources and building a better financial future, but they also create opportunities for companies to pioneer connections with previously unreached audiences.
So what industries will be the first to adopt the tech and its distribution capabilities? The media and entertainment may be the industry most likely to normalize the use of blockchain. From individuals such as celebrities, athletes, influencers, and artists to large companies and rights holders, it’s easy to see why this industry is an early adopter and spender. Financial institutions will be both disrupted and early adopters. Healthcare is likely to follow. Government will see its advantages but will predictably be slower to adopt.
Regardless of industry, blockchain presents useful solutions for brands in both the tangible and virtual worlds. Digital marketing and interfacing with customers have helped brands build stronger relationships with their customers and gather first-party data, but naturally, consumers are wary of where their data goes and how it’s going to be treated once they engage with a brand. Since the blocks store data with transparency, brands can offer consumers a greater level of trust, showing them exactly how their data is being used.
Aside from increased transparency, brands can also take advantage of distributing NFTs on the blockchain in a way that protects their digital assets. Large companies like Disney, Nike, and Hyundai are already making ground in the metaverse, and surely others will follow.
What brands need to consider is how they create new experiences in immersive worlds but also maintain consistency. NFTs for brands who are also rights holders should go hand in hand with that strategy but they need to make sure that their content is protected and have a thoughtful plan in place with an experienced licensing team.
This isn’t to say that brands need to duplicate real-world assets into the metaverse, if anything, the metaverse is an opportunity to enhance user experience and build immersive experiences that traditional channels don’t offer. What’s truly key here is that brands keep their branding consistent across both worlds, and AI-enhanced tools like synthetic voice and avatars are making that more doable by the day.
Undoubtedly, NFTs and virtual real estate will play a large role in the metaverse. Content creators and brands are both leaning on non-fungible tokens for their utility and the ability to monetize non-traditional assets. Although it’s a bit of a zeitgeist at the moment, I predict that once the market becomes more legitimate, NFTs will be used more for tickets, elite or exclusive memberships, games, and as an aid in social and philanthropic efforts.
In this new world, the verification and legitimacy of content creators and virtual assets are crucial. Thankfully, blockchain can help prohibit infringement and misappropriation of a company’s or individual’s assets and likeness to protect themselves in any virtual world.