There are a number of advocacy groups working to educate about, and promote the use of, blockchain and distributed ledger technologies (DLT) throughout Europe and the world.
Blockchain Ireland engaged with many of these as it presented its successful programme for Blockchain Ireland Week 2021.
Despite receiving more than 5,000 registrations for the 60 plus events over the course of the week, there is still quite a job to do to get the message out there that blockchain and DLT has a place in industry and business, outside of the realms of cryptocurrency.
If that mission were ever in doubt, one need only do a little search engine exercise.
As of this time, the end of the first week of June 2021, go to Google.ie, type in the search term “blockchain news 2021”, set it for results from the past month and it will be observed that only on the seventh entry of the third page of results does the term “blockchain” actually appear in a result.
The rest of the results are dominated by cryptocurrency and Bitcoin in particular.
This circumstance is not surprising, given that Bitcoin has had a period of volatility in recent weeks that is probably as extreme as any in its turbulent history.
One month ago, Bitcoin was valued at $57,361.57, today it is $33,451, having had a high in April of some $63,000.
Its volatility has been affected by everything from the comments of billionaires to the reaction to widespread ransomware attacks.
While these wild ride valuations suck all the oxygen of coverage, the real work of blockchain in providing a trusted base infrastructure for a new generation of services and applications goes on.
Blockchain and DLT have the potential to tackle some of the key issues facing digital services currently.
First of all, these technologies are key in putting control of identity back in the hands of citizens. Self-sovereign identity systems have the potential to allow people to determine what elements of their personal data are made available to different entities with which they might want to engage, be that a utility provider, an online retailer or a social network. These systems rely on a blockchain core to provide these services.
Blockchain has been put forward by more than one commentator as a base for protection from the scourge of ransomware attacks
Secondly, health records, as we move to a post pandemic planning mode, can be made more secure and enabled by blockchain to provide health passports, reducing the need for administrative overheads and the constant testing in facilitating travel once again. Various technology vendors and developers have been working on secure, digital passports to carry health information, such as vaccination status.
And lastly, blockchain has been put forward by more than one commentator as a base for protection from the scourge of ransomware attacks that have been so widespread and so devastating of late, including the US fuel provider Colonial Pipelines, The Australian meat processor JBS, and of course, our own health services instance.
These are the applications that are proving the real value of blockchain and DLT in the wider context beyond the origins in cryptocurrencies. This message still needs promoting as clearly evidenced by the Google experience at time of writing.
Blockchain Ireland, in concert with other national organisations, as well as international groups such as the Blockchain Associations Forum, will continue to tell the stories of the application of these technologies that bring value to citizens, consumers and developers. There is much work to do.