Our world is full of technology that most of us use without understanding how it works. Internal combustion engines, alternating current, the internet: most of us rely on these technologies daily, and we don’t care how they work. Should the blockchain really be any different?
Right now, we’re at a point with blockchain technology that’s about equal to where we were with the internet in the early 1990s. This was before Google, and even before Amazon. We knew that the “world wide web” existed, but few people understood how it worked, and people couldn’t do much on it. Now, of course, the internet has transformed our lives. Even though most people don’t understand how the internet works, our ability to perform all sorts of everyday activities depends on having internet access.
For most people, the blockchain is still shrouded in mystery. It’s not widely understood, and most people don’t use it. They’ve heard of bitcoin and maybe some other cryptocurrencies, but few understand how or why blockchains could be used everyday.
But blockchain applications have never been straightforward for the average user, and in the case of cryptocurrencies, they seem risky or even dangerous. Recently, however, a few forward-thinking companies have started to use blockchain technology in consumer applications. This is the first real step towards gaining mainstream acceptance for blockchain.
Figure Technologies, Inc. – leveraging blockchain to make borrowing easier and cheaper
Accessing and providing credit can be a frustrating process: for consumers it’s opaque and time-consuming, and for financial services firms, it’s costly and inefficient. But because it creates an immutable record for every transaction, a blockchain can be used to record, share and exchange data about loans. Because people aren’t involved in the process, there’s little chance that errors can be introduced. Errors become costly when people then need to spend time and money tracking them down and fixing them. Properly applied, blockchain technology can make these financial transactions more efficient, more secure, and less costly.
Figure Technologies, Inc. is taking advantage of blockchain technology to simplify the way financial transactions are performed, and in doing so it is transforming financial services. Figure’s consumer offerings currently focus on home equity line of credit borrowing and mortgage refinancing. Figure is paving the way for the blockchain with its recent ad campaign that uses its mascot “Blockchain” to explain the technology to consumers in clear and straightforward terms, showing them how blockchain technology works and why it makes sense for financial transactions.
Horizon Games – bringing gaming back to the people
Massive multiplayer online (MMO) games are hugely popular, with people around the world joining communities where they participate in a shared ecosystem and work to earn credits or currency within the platform’s parameters. But rather than creating another platform where players must pay to play, Horizon Games is using the Ethereum blockchain to create a new type of platform that belongs as much to its players as it does to its creators.
Horizon is leveraging elements usually associated with cryptocurrencies – wallets and coins – to create game features that resonate with consumers and put control back in their hands. The Arcadeum wallet functions as a secure crypto wallet where players can store and manage game items, such as rewards or currencies; Skyweaver is a free-to-play trading card game that brings the best parts of physical collectible card games into the digital era, giving players ownership of their digital cards and allowing for easy transfer between players.
Moves – meeting the financial needs of gig economy workers
The gig economy has exploded in the last decade, and while many gig workers have benefitted from increased flexibility in choosing when and where to work, this freedom has come at a price: gig workers don’t work if there’s no demand for their services, and they usually pay out of pocket for their own equipment. As a result, full-time gig workers have more financial anxiety than any other group. Moves offers products that alleviate this stress.
Moves provides capital directly to users in the form of short-term loans and will soon be launching a cash advance product. These will not only help resolve short-term financial obstacles but will also help gig workers build a track record with responsible credit use, and Moves intends to use this data to inform future lending decisions, for products that may include lines of credit, debt consolidation, business financing, and insurance and investment products.
The more we use blockchain technology, the more it becomes commonplace, the less mysterious it will become. Not everyone will understand how it works, but that’s okay. Figure, Horizon, and Moves are at the forefront of the movement to bring the blockchain to consumers, and as a result they have the potential to transform the way we live and work. Google and Amazon have been the titans who shaped the way we use the internet; will one of these companies fill that role for the blockchain era?