At the University of Sydney’s Business School, students are taught how to challenge conventional thinking to remain agile in a constantly changing environment. Which is why students in the Master of Marketing program learn how to identify disruptive technologies and trends using a range of frameworks and underlying theories to help the brands they represent stay ahead of the game.
What is a Blockchain?
Since its creation by the anonymous and illusive founder, Satoshi Nakamoto, Blockchain has meant a lot of things to a lot of people. But one of its principle applications is in the infrastructure behind Bitcoin. While it may just be the most revolutionary technology since the Internet, according to Martech Today, it’s essentially a distributed spreadsheet or ledger than is simultaneously maintained with no central data storage.
Authors of Blockchain Revolution, Don and Alex Tapscott, go one step further with their definition, describing it as an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.
Instead, information exists as a shared and continually reconciled database, duplicated across a network of computers using the network. BlockGeeks write, ‘’The Blockchain database isn’t stored in any single location, meaning the records it keeps are truly public and easily verifiable. No centralised version of this information exists for a hacker to corrupt. Hosted by millions of computers simultaneously, its data is accessible to anyone on the Internet.’’
How is Blockchain disrupting global financial institutions?
Although you might just be learning of it, Blockchain is by no means a new technology. It is essentially a combination of asymmetric cryptography (public/private keys encryption, which is how the Internet is secured today) and distributed systems. Whispers of it were heard back in the 1990’s when the world wasn’t ready. Enter a world, post GFC, where the timing was ripe. It was clear to all that it was time to disrupt global financial institutions and create a fairer system of sending value over the Internet.
Instead, Bitcoin is:
- Easy to set up and it is fast
- Minimal transaction fees
- Immutable and no duplicable transactions
How could Blockchain change marketing & advertising?
As marketers and advertisers, we are constantly on the lookout for disruptive technologies and their impact on different industries. Which is why it’s important to take note of its adoption in these early stages.
Digiday explains some possible applications for the technology:
- Customer relationship management
- Payment methods like multiparty payments and user ID verification
- Ad delivery verification
- Immutable contracts with consumers
- Transparent management of consumer
- Product authenticity verifications i.e. sustainability, authenticity, background or point of origin
If you aren’t already blown away by its obvious benefits, let me lay it out straight for you. The most obvious benefit to this technology is a more secure global payment system. So when we ask, ‘Who will use it?’ We can assume that it includes pretty much anyone and everyone who needs to pay for consumer goods.
The World Bank estimated that over $430 billion US in money transfers were sent in 2015 alone. One huge drawcard here is the ability to cut out the middle-man and all the accompanying fees. With the invention of ‘wallet’ applications for smartphones that allow people to make purchases with cryptocurrencies, and physical Bitcoin Cash distributers, Bitcoin can now be used by anyone and everyone to buy things electronically. Making it no different from conventional dollars.
In countries where governments have mismanaged the economy, causing hyperinflation, the benefits for consumers are increased tenfold. Because Bitcoin has the ability to be transferred across borders with no middleman and minimal fees, it’s the obvious choice for transferring money and paying for goods.
Luke Anderson, Lecturer at the University of Sydney and Director at Sigma Prime, explains how decentralised technologies are shifting the power dynamic away from the corporation and towards the individual:
"Traditionally, we've had no choice but to place a great deal of trust in organisations, and the judicial system that is tasked with keeping them honest. Now, decentralised technologies, such as blockchains, provide a game-changing alternative that enables us to place trust in technologies and mathematics which cannot be manipulated by any company or collective. This effectively shifts the power dynamic away from large corporations and towards the individual."
Although it isn’t yet clear how this technology will be adopted across industries, it is obvious that innovation will likely change the future of transactions. Start-ups and even banks are beginning to adopt blockchain, which is why it is important for us to pay close attention.
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School