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+92Disrupt: LHR Edition Roundup | What Even is Blockchain!?

Jehan | Jul 22 2022
+92Disrupt: LHR Edition Roundup | What Even is Blockchain!?

We know that blockchain has something to do with Bitcoin or NFTs, but that’s about all that most of us know.

However, if you were at +92Disrupt: LHR Edition, there were ample opportunities to understand the vast world of blockchain technology.

For instance, we had a panel discussion on the specifics of Web3.0 and NFTs, titled ‘Unblocking the Chain’, with industry professionals like Taha Memon, Faizan Iftikhar, Zain Naqvi, Elizay Jehangir, and Khurram Zafar.

But for those on the hunt for a foundational education in blockchain technology, Mo Ali Yousuf saved the day!

Who is Mo Ali Yousuf?

Upon bringing attention to the “very photoshopped” image we used of Mo on the stage background, he went on to explain what he does: he is the Regional Manager for the Middle East, North Africa, and Pakistan for Checkout.com – a $40 billion Fintech enabling businesses to accept digital payments.

Not only is the organization backing digital payment processes for most transaction-based apps on your phone, but their scope of operations also makes Mo the best person to speak about the basics of blockchain technology. How?

“Many people don’t know this, but we (Checkout.com) actually power 80% of the world’s fiat-to-crypto… So if you do buy cryptocurrencies through platforms like Binance or Crypto.com, chances are, those payments are going through our payment rails.”

Web3 Gives People the Chance to Own a Piece of the Internet

Consider, for instance, Web1, when the internet started, in the early 90’s. It made the flow of communication a bit one-dimensional: we were solely reading content on platforms like Yahoo and Netscape.

Web2, on the other hand, made communications more of a 2-way thing; users could now read and write. Hence, platforms like YouTube allowed you to upload videos and Facebook allowed you to input images, videos, and text info about yourself.

As great as two-communications on the internet sound, it is usually the third-party publishers who end up making most the money off of the original content input by users.

This is where Web3 comes in – giving the ownership of the content back to the creators through things like NFTs and tokens.

As a result, newer creators are incentivized to learn more about the internet and contribute original content.

But Are People Adopting It?

Crypto adoption is approximately similar to where the internet’s adoption was in the early 90s. Therefore, despite news of stablecoins crashing and NFT collections failing, this seems to be noise coming in from the cautious – as there were when the internet was making itself known, there will always be skeptics and their opinions will be fueled by the fluctuations of an infant market!

Here are some of the numbers behind crypto:

  • There are roughly 300 million crypto users worldwide, which is 4% of the world’s population. This number has also tripled since 2021
  • Of these 300 million, 9 million are in Pakistan
  • There was a $2.5 billion Crypto spend in the first quarter of 2022
  • There was $44 billion worth of NFT sales in 2021

We Know About Web3 and Crypto, But What’s the Blockchain?

It may seem surprising coming from the audience of a tech and entrepreneurship conference

but when Mo asked the +92Disrupt attendants if they knew what blockchain was, roughly half the room sat dumbfounded!

In his attempts to keep the definition simple, Mo Ali Yousuf described the blockchain as:

“A distributed database where you have different players in an ecosystem that can share data in a very trusted way.”

He went on to reiterate the trustworthiness of the technology by driving home the fact that it’s confidential, private, and very difficult to hack.

But despite his best efforts, the definition can still be seen as a mixture of buzzwords and jargon. And for those who agree with that, he described blockchain through some very specific use-cases!

The Use-Cases of Blockchain

There are 4 very apparent use-cases of blockchain: automotive, financial, electoral, and healthcare; Mo delved further into four of them.

Financial Services

Pakistan is among the largest recipients of remittances from abroad, specifically from North America and Europe. However, there are three problems with incoming money:

  1. The process is time-consuming
  2. The process is expensive (recipients may have to pay between 3-5% overhead)
  3. The process is inefficient (waiting for payments to bounce between multiple banks)

Blockchain technology is offering solutions to this problem with platforms like Ripple, Stellar, and countless others.

The idea behind these platforms is that users should be able to conduct trustworthy p2p money transfers in almost real-time. If done right, the process should negate all 3 of the problems mentioned above!

Healthcare

This use-case of blockchain has seen significant growth in Pakistan from a startup perspective. Contrary to the way things were done decades ago, people now have different doctors for different things, serving online and offline.

But despite further involvement of tech in health, data management is still fragmented; hence, you may find yourself taking test results from one doctor to another, explaining your history each time in an excruciatingly dragged-out process.

Each trip to a pharmacist, insurance company, or general physician is a new experience as they all greet you with no prior knowledge of your condition.

Again, to help offer a solution to this problem, several organizations are building systems that allow for the sharing of medical records, procedures, and histories privately and confidentially. And this is all possible only with the help of blockchain technology.

Real Estate Transactions

Suppose you want to invest in a property, either by renting or buying. In each scenario, there will be several different ‘middle-men’ involved in the process: you may need a loan from a bank, you may have brokers and agents, you may need insurance, a logistics handler, etc.

Using blockchain technology, all of these service providers can be chained together, making the entire process feel shorter and done in fewer steps.

Cryptocurrency

This is arguably the most avid use-case of blockchain technology, which serves as the foundation of all cryptocurrencies and tokens.

Even after showing its worth, cryptocurrency has its doubters, and two of the main reasons for that are:

  • Cryptocurrencies do not have a physical form
  • Cryptocurrencies are not regulated by a central bank

And to just shed some light on the acceptance of Cryptocurrencies, Solana, which is just one of the more prominent currencies, records roughly 15 million transactions a day!

cryptocurrency is a use case of blockchain

These Cryptocurrencies – like Bitcoin – are also known as level 1 chains, since the aforementioned use-cases are built upon them.

So for example, Solana is a popular blockchain that companies are building applications on.

And That’s Blockchain Technology!

It’s safe to say, Mo Ali Yousuf has covered all the basics!

To boil it down: by using the example of health-data sharing and financial services, the one key benefit of blockchain technology is the private and efficient sharing of data across many different (but relevant) participants.

Therefore, blockchain technology will be seen as an essential future cog in supply chain monitoring, digital voting, real estate, certificate verification, copyright protection, digital identity, banking, trading pharmaceuticals, asset management, charity, etc.

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