By Brian Moir
At first, everyone is overwhelmed by new technology. Blockchain technology has been equated to when the internet was invented or even the wheel. It’s a booming industry that is going to revolutionize the world as we know it.
This will be a basic level intro into the world of decentralization, technological revolution, and being in control of your own financial future. You can do anything from tracking the food you eat from farm to table (ripe.io https://ripe.io/about ) to being able to pay anyone anywhere in the world in seconds basically fee-free (Ripple XRP/USD, https://xrpl.org/). There are endless use cases for blockchain technology and we are just now getting started.
So the news is now being bombarded with new cryptocurrencies, ICO/ IFOs, blockchains, and NFTs. I am sure you have seen headlines of digital art ( that you would think you could just download from anywhere ) going for >$60 MILLION USD, or that even Charmin and Taco Bell( yeah that toilet taco combo https://decrypt.co/62411/taco-bell-to-charmin-10-big-brands-jumping-on-nft-bandwagon) is getting into the NFT game, but I’m not really here to get into the ins and outs of NFTs. I here to give you a breakdown of how to start down this wild rabbit hole that is Crypto. I’m going to give you a birds-eye view of what makes blockchain technology work and the rundown of crypto investing in general. I’m just an average guy who can break it down in easy-to-understand terms (hopefully at least). I wholeheartedly believe that the new phase of people investing in crypto is here to stay and keep rising. If crypto is something that I am seeing people in their 60s and 70s start investing in, when they have trouble with their Gmail account, I know damn well we have something of note on our hands. Now, I am not a full-on expert in blockchain programming, nor am I a financial advisor, but I have been in the game for long enough to understand what is happening and why. At the moment, I work for an investment/ stock market media company. In my role, I interact with our user base on a day-to-day basis, so I get a good sense of what people are watching and investing in as a whole. I am super passionate about crypto and blockchain technology, and as I said, I am just here to give you a breakdown of what’s going on. I will give ideas on what to look out for, how to stay safe, and maybe get a better understanding of this whole new space, so you can finally understand what your grandson/ daughter or nephew/ niece has been going on and on about.
So let's start with the basics: what is the blockchain and why is it beneficial? Well, the simplest answer is that on the blockchain there is a continuous and fungible ( or non-fungible, (NFT ( non-fungible token))) ledger ( on many networks around the globe ) of interactions that can be searched and viewed by anyone. This allows for an entity to keep records of anything, and that record can not be changed or altered.
“ A blockchain is a decentralized, distributed, and oftentimes public, digital ledger consisting of records called blocks that is used to record transactions across many computers so that any involved block cannot be altered retroactively, without the alteration of all subsequent blocks.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blockchain#:~:text=A%20blockchain%20is%20a%20decentralized,alteration%20of%20all%20subsequent%20blocks.)
This is HUGE for how we deal with banking, supply chains, transactions, healthcare, and an endless amount of use cases. Now that you have a basic understanding of what a blockchain actually is, lets move on to a few example of what some of these companies do.
Have you ever wondered if there was a way to check where you produce or meat comes from, every step of the way? What about a way to get access to GPU rendering power that only large production companies can afford, for a fractional cost and get paid to share yours? How about ways to get the highest APY on a savings account with no third-party bank, credit check, or institutional fees? Lastly, what about being able to send money to your family overseas whether they are studying abroad, or you are working in a different country and the fees to send money would cost more than what you are sending and could take days-weeks to arrive? Blockchain technology is the answer and solution to all of these questions and much. much more. I am only giving you the tip of the iceberg here.
Let's start with some examples of blockchain applications for supply chains.
Supply chain data is not always visible, available or trusted. IBM Blockchain helps supply chain partners share trusted data through permissioned blockchain solutions.
In times of disruption, this matters more than ever. Businesses and consumers want brands to guarantee product authenticity, while supply chain participants demand responsible sourcing and better visibility to minimize disputes.
Blockchain for supply chain solutions help supply chain leaders use data to handle the disruptions of today and build resiliency for the future. IBM is setting the standard for creating blockchain solutions for many companies. They have created a product that allows a company to implement their own supply chain onto a ledger that is searchable, scalable, and immutable. This is big because it allows full transparency for the company and its consumers. Builds trust, lowers disputes, increases profit margins, and allows visibility for tracking and transparency with ease. One very significant project that is using the IBM blockchain is AI vaccination distribution with Moderna. “Blockchain can provide real-time visibility of vaccine distribution and chain of custody from manufacturing to administration, eliminating blind spots across public and private entities.”
For Supplier Management, using IBM blockchain allows for seamless onboarding, transparency for consumers and receivers, and is quick and of course immutable/ tamperproof. Delivering on your customer promises starts with suppliers delivering for you. No matter how strong your supply chain team may be, finding the right suppliers to meet your business needs is costly and time-consuming. Trust Your Supplier is changing all that with a secure, blockchain-based solution for identifying, onboarding and managing qualified suppliers, no matter what industry you’re in. Find out why IBM uses Trust Your Supplier.
Finally to finish off just a small portion of what the IBM blockchain is capable of: following a retail product ( or produce ) from end to end and help boost sales. At the start of the pandemic, retailers faced challenges such as keeping products on shelves, supply chains moving, stores open and employees safe. As the world cautiously steps toward reopening, retail sales are increasing. Now is a decisive moment for the retail industry to use blockchain in addressing all the challenges of the new normal.
Now, again, these are just small samples of what IBM has going on with their Blockchain technology. They are totally revolutionizing the SaaS model for blockchain implantation to solve common issues that today’s industries face, especially after a global pandemic.
Now that was a little bit of a deeper dive into just one company, but here will be a quicker, high-level view of some of the more niche blockchain companies, that are more focused on a specific solution.
- RNDR/USD ( https://rendertoken.com/ )
“The Render Network™, through the use of RNDR™ tokens, is the first network to transform the power of GPU compute into a decentralized economy of connected 3D assets.
OTOY’s vision is to distribute the framework of the existing rendering service in OctaneRender® using RNDR, a digital token built on the Ethereum blockchain.
The Render Network is designed to connect users looking to perform render jobs with people who have idle GPUs to process the renders. Owners would connect their GPUs to the Render Network in order to receive and complete rendering jobs using OctaneRender. Users would send RNDR to the individual performing the render work and OTOY would receive a small percentage of RNDR for facilitating the transaction and running the Render Network.”
- Yearn finance YFI/USD , UniSwap UNI/USD, Curve Finance CRV/USD, and Compound Finance COMP/USD
Now all of these are what are called Defi ( Decentralized Finance ) apps. There is no one sole owner or decision-maker for these programs and they have been democratized and decentralized. There are controlled by tokens holders of tokens called Governance Tokens. This means you have to mine their proprietary token in order to have a say in how the application evolves. Each one has a different way to earn their token, and each one provides a different service. The one I wanted to spend more time on than the others is UniSwap, but I will get to that in just a second. The thought of decentralized finance is super appealing because it puts control of your finances into your own hands, and takes out a third-party of fees, regulations, and limitations. With no stipulations and open to anyone. The DeFi movement is groundbreaking because it gives everyone in the WORLD access to financial services that were limited to only certain areas or regions. It takes the power away from big banks monopolizing the market and paying fees while they profit from your hard-earned money. Now Defi is not for everyone, and there are some centralized crypto savings apps out there that are well established and can be actually safer than some defi ones (Coinbase is a tried and true, safe exchange/ wallet, as is crypto.com and BinanceUS BNB/USD I am going to do a separate article on these soon)**. Always make sure to do your research before putting your money into anything ( I’ll dive deeper into this a little later).
- Uniswap UNI/USD
Uniswap is a protocol for creating liquidity and trading ERC-20 tokens on Ethereum ETH/USD. It eliminates trusted intermediaries and unnecessary forms of rent extraction, allowing for fast, efficient trading. Where it makes tradeoffs decentralization, censorship resistance, and security are prioritized. Uniswap is open-source software licensed under GPL. Uniswap is one of the largest open-source and successful Dex/ defi programs out there. It can be a little expensive to swap tokens but has large liquidity and pools for high APY ROI. I wanted to give a little more info on this one because it is setting the standard for defi across the board. UniSwap is one of my top projects to keep up with and be a part of.
My last portion of blockchain/ cryptos to take a look at is payment processors specifically:
- Stellar XLM/USD
Stellar is an open-source network for currencies and payments. Stellar makes it possible to create, send and trade digital representations of all forms of money — dollars, pesos, bitcoin, pretty much anything. It’s designed so all the world’s financial systems can work together on a single network.
Stellar has no owner; if anything it’s owned by the public. The software runs across a decentralized, open network and handles millions of transactions each day. Like Bitcoin and Ethereum, Stellar relies on blockchain to keep the network in sync, but the end-user experience is more like cash — Stellar is much faster, cheaper, and more energy-efficient than typical blockchain-based systems. I will let their description give you the jest of what it going on with them. I use them frequently for moving my crypto around and highly recommend their platform. As a former developer myself, I am always excited about amazing open-source projects that I can get behind and are making the world a better place.
Now that I have given you the rundown on what the blockchain is and on a few different companies with what they do, I will leave you with some safety guidelines for investing and how to maneuver around the decentralized web.
These key points will be crucial for being in this space. You can find them anywhere and they are pretty much common sense once you are familiar with this new wild west that is crypto.
- NEVER give out, share, or misplace your seed phrases. These are the keys to your vault. Anyone who has these will have access to all of your funds. I’d suggest a hardware ( or cold ) wallet to store you assets if the cost outweighs the risks. Most all wallets, exchanges, and swaps will have 2fa or biometric locks on your account, but if you lose your phone or get a new one, you will need your seed phrase to access your accounts. ( most platforms CAN NOT access this phrase and if you lose it, you lose your assets. * some are custodial and can help you enter back in, but as a best practice always keep these safe and never give them out, even if someone says they are with “support” a company will NEVER ask for this )
- Use a web3 browser app like MetaMask or Klever**. This will allow you to connect to dapps ( more on dapps in another article but they are decentralized apps ) on their correlating blockchains.
- Always do your research. Never invest in something you know nothing about. All companies will have a roadmap and Whitepaper. These will tell you the direction they are heading and what their goals are. Most all have telegram groups, subreddits, or discord you can join and see what their community is all about.
- Be aware of gas fees. They can fluctuate at different times and can be pricey. The new protocol for ETH2.0 is going to help with this a lot.
- Never connect your wallet to something that seems fishy or too good to be true. Always check for reviews or google about something you're unsure of. Most of the time is they are promising something that doesn't seem right, it's not.
- Invest for your future, not for an overnight get rich quick. There are an abundant amount of fraud, pump and dump, and fly-by-night gurus that will say their coin is going to the moon or they can get you X return if you send them X amount. Don't fall for it.
- The final one is to have fun, learn, grow, and be a part of this revolution that is going to change the world for the better. There are a bunch of different projects that will do so much good in the world, that I am super excited to see where everything is just 5 years from now.
That's pretty much the jest of what blockchain and crypto tech is. I know it was kind of a longer read, but I hope you enjoyed it and learned something. I wanted to make a disclaimer, that I am not a financial professional, and I do have affiliate links in some of the links with **. My goal is to bring crypto and blockchain to as many people as I can. I know there are a ton of people out here writing and doing the same, but I think that's a wonderful thing. If this is your first entry into this space, I hope you stay, make a better future for yourself, and give something back to this community. It's an amazing movement and I am thrilled to be a part of it.
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