2017 has been the most notable year so far in the development of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, and will be remembered as the year that crypto was put on the map. At the beginning of the year there was increased mainstream interest in blockchains (with the US Congress being briefed on the technology), then we saw corporations getting serious about their own blockchain efforts, and then came what was called “the summer of bitcoin”. The question then is what comes next?
While blockchains and crypto are unlike anything the tech world has seen before, there is still a general trend that new developments follow. As Geoffrey Moore said in his best-selling book about technology diffusion, the important tipping-point with new technologies is how:
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“the development of a high-tech market lies in making the transition from an early market dominated by a few visionary customers to a mainstream market dominated by a large block of customers who are predominantly pragmatists in orientation.”
When applied to blockchain, this highlights the need for ecosystems that provide frictionless and secure transactions, without platform clashes or silos of data. So who are the early adopters in this equation? If you’re reading this article, most likely you (as well as anyone who trades cryptocurrencies, is involved in blockchain projects, or works in a company researching blockchains). Who is the valuable mainstream market in this equation then? Many cryptocurrency enthusiasts would assume it is the mobile payments industry, but a more certain cash-cow will be the Enterprise technology market (soon to be worth around half a trillion dollars).
Riding a wave of good publicity, the blockchain space looks like it is poised for a serious mainstream breakout, especially in the corporate IT sector. But in order to do so, it will need developed solutions to create an easier-to-use ecosystem to really win over the pragmatists in large companies.
So what are the most significant obstacles to this mainstream adoption? As the recent Bitcoin fork and also the development of the Raiden and Lightning networks show, the challenges are mainly technical but not insurmountable.
One such project is Aion, which also caters to non-enterprise solutions. with a view to allowing developers, corporations, and governments create blockchain solutions that work in the real world for large organizations. The parent company, Nuco, hope this will overcome the hindrances currently faced by the many large corporations experimenting with blockchains.
The whole issue revolves around allowing enterprise companies to manage and link their blockchains easier. Whichever company creates the protocol for blockchains stands to reap massive rewards.
Obstacles to blockchain adoption
As one crypto expert Andreas Antonopoulos said, “in technology it is often not the best technology that “wins”, but the one that achieves broad enough adoption and recognition early enough. Good enough beats best if deployed broadly.” this is relevant to the development of inter-blockchain protocols also. Corporations and enterprises need a solution that allows them to send transaction from one blockchain to any another – and being able to interface with all blockchains is more important than the whole platform being the “best”. So in this context, widespread adoption and interoperability are key.
As of yet, the current tools available to companies is not good enough. Firstly, there is the aforementioned problem of interoperability. Despite the fact that there is progress in multichain transactions, there does not as of yet exist a comprehensive solution linking blockchains.
The second issue is scaling. Considering that banks might have to process thousands of transactions per second (amounting to a few dozen billion per year), the proliferation of blockchains could render things prohibitively slow if protocols don’t allow for fast and light data transfer.
Finally, there is the issue of data privacy. Most private cryptocurrency users don’t mind if their wallet balance is visible, for example. But large corporations are (in some cases as required by law) bound to much stricter standards of privacy.
Making the ecosystem ready for business
To address these issues, the team behind the Aion network have designed with a few goals in mind. First, the solution is designed for companies to be able to easily make new blockchains, and then transact from them to other participating blockchains (as per the interoperability principle mentioned earlier).
The Aion solution also makes it easier to transact from already existing private blockchains through the Aion network. And another component of the Aion solution is the ability to scale up blockchain resources, allowing companies to use a virtual machine-based system to address their scale needs.
Nuco CEO Matthew Spoke gave a straightforward use case example of how Aion could be used in a recent interview:
“A simple example that people often point to is in financial services, being able to create a close-payment network, for example, between a group of domestic banks. In Canada take the five biggest Canadian banks and, say, they wanted to create a faster payment or settlement system, they might decide to do that on the distributed network rather than creating an intermediary organization for that.”
The right team to take on the problem?
The Nuco team behind the Aion project was founded by the creators of Deloitte’s blockchain practice, Rubix, which would suggest that they have the right experience for getting the message right for corporate clients. The 20 person team based in Toronto has previously seen success with a blockchain project for a natural-resource energy company.
So the pieces seem to be in place for a successful launch. The Aion token, which allows developers and users to create applications and conduct transactions in the ecosystem, went on sale on October 3rd.