Oxford University, the esteemed British institution which has been in existence for over nine hundred years – now has a blockchain course. You know you’ve made it when Oxford takes notice. Bitcoin’s distributed ledger system has arguably become a standout result of the cryptocurrency craze (fans include notorious Bitcoin hater and J.P. Morgan CEO James Dimon) and is beginning to branch out, taking its talent for distributing data and funds, elsewhere.
Online marketplaces could be a good place to start, even with their reliable business models. Hubs like Amazon and eBay are full of data and online interactions that would work well with a blockchain system. Though both companies show a general distaste for the idea. Despite seeming impenetrability regarding efficiency – one pain point sticks out in even the largest of enterprises and that’s security concerns.
Securing the market
Facebook faced pushback when its marketplace came under scrutiny in 2016 for lax security within seller and buyer relations. Mostly due to a lack of a built-in payment system and no record of interactions between parties, allowing those with unsavoury intentions to slip through the cracks. However, supporters of blockchain tech think the set-up could alleviate these woes in P2P networks like Facebook or Etsy.
With a blockchain powered marketplace, personal information isn’t required, claims Ruby Garage.
“Since a blockchain-based marketplace removes intermediaries, all transactions are traceable on a public ledger, demonstrating a high level of security and transparency.”
Banking with blockchain
Outside of the marketplace model, banks are also jumping aboard the blockchain train, seeing its potential for eliminating fraud issues. In 2015 Santander announced the launch of an app for transferring funds internationally, initially using staff as guinea pigs in the hope of releasing it into the world one day.
“This transition, if it finally happens, is going to take a long time, and the chief reason is simple: legacy bank infrastructure and the tens of billions of dollars that have already been spent on building that infrastructure,” wrote John Whelan, blockchain lab director at Banco Santander.
A decentralised marketplace presents the appearance of a good idea in theory but blockchain technology is still in the early stages of development, and like we mentioned, many significant influencers aren’t quite on board, despite enthusiasm from crypto-boosters like Ethereum cofounder Joseph Lubin. “Apple seems to be largely uncaring and unaware. Google is making investments, but it’s not clear that they have a lot of activity going on. Amazon, we’ve not seen that much, so we’ll see.” Lubin told Fortune at an event in New York last year.
The Soma model
Still, smaller blockchain marketplaces are emerging. Soma, a Finnish-based digital platform using blockchain tech aims to create an online marketplace where users can buy and sell safely within a P2P network. Goods and services are represented by “cards” which allows for a totally transparent system.
“Users are encouraged to engage in actions that will benefit other members and the community as a whole by rewarding such actions with Soma Community (SCT), a cryptocurrency designed to incentivise the members of the decentralised community to perform value-adding services and act as a fast, secure and cost-effective way of compensation,” writes Soma on their website.
It seems that a move towards implementing blockchain into digital marketplaces is a definite possibility, regardless of big enterprises’ disinterest. Only time will tell how it grows but if the end goal is a safer and happier online community, then who can resist that?