This article is part of Inc42’s Startup Watchlist annual series where we list the top startups to watch for 2018 from industries like AI, Logistics, Blockchain etc. Explore all the stories from ‘Startup Watchlist’ series here.
For every Google user, Wikipedia and Google Docs, to a lesser extent, are active participants in their daily lives consumed on the Internet. Both Wikipedia and Google Docs (shared) are accessible to anyone and can be edited by multiple users across the world simultaneously, a technology very similar to the blockchain.
However, unlike blockchain which is a distributed ledger concept, both Wikipedia and Google Docs have a centralised database and are controlled by their corresponding authorities which can shut it down anytime they want. Banks, on the other hand, while enabling payment transfers remain the controlling authority, even if they have nothing to do with a payer/payee’s money.
Author Jessica Guzik’s in her story ‘Blockchain: A Love Story’ says,
It’s convenient to trust a bank, or any third party, to control the ledger, but that convenience comes at a price. As you know, your transactions are subject to the bank’s fees, terms, and timelines.
During the great financial crisis of 2007-2008, when one of the largest investment banks, Lehman Brothers broke down, and other leading banks – Merrill Lynch, AIG, HBOS, Royal Bank of Scotland, Bradford & Bingley, Fortis, Hypo Real Estate, and Alliance & Leicester — were set to follow (Until the US government made a $7.7 Tn bailout); this made the users clear that even after paying all the fees and service charges, their money is neither safe nor guaranteed.
A perfect stage set for developers to come up with an alternate solution where nobody would dictate or control the data flow! And, Satoshi Nakamoto (pseudonym) came up with a peer-to-peer-electronic transfer system that cemented two disruptive ideas, hard to tell which one is bigger since the Internet.