The Blockchain Streaming Revolution is Coming
Picture the scene: Its 1990 and you want to watch the latest box-office smash hit Home Alone. How do you do it?
In 1990 film is still physical. To watch Home Alone, you would have to find a cinema screening it, or go out and buy a physical copy of the film (DVD, or VHS) to play at home.
The rise of audio/visual streaming changed all that.
With a computer (or a phone) and an internet connection you can stream any film on demand anytime, anywhere.
This freedom has allowed us to consume media in different ways. You can now watch Home Alone on your commute, or in the bath.
But it has also allowed us to consumer different kinds of media.
It would make no financial sense to put a one minute YouTube clip on a DVD. It would not be worth the cost of production, or the trouble of going out to buy it.
With audio and visual streaming we can not only create these kinds of experiences, we can distribute them so seamlessly that they can be explicitly disposable.
An Instagram story is a cheap, short, one-day-only, audio-visual product. It is only possible in the streaming age. Imagine trying to create the same kind of experience with self-destructing DVDs and first class post.
But this is all old news.
Streaming has already changed the way we consume media. The real story is how streaming might change the way we use money.
Crypto currencies have seen astronomical growth in the last decade. The blockchain has made this rise possible by creating a “decentralised ledger” for digital money that users can trust.
To put it simply, the blockchain is the account book that proves that you really do own 1 bitcoin. You trust this ledger because other users of the network have to verify every transaction. This means it’s nearly impossible for anyone to tamper with your account.
But blockchain has potential applications well beyond the world of crypto.
In the world of payments, blockchain networks could allow users to create payment channels that safely exchange funds near instantaneously, with miniscule transaction fees and without a middleman.
Prototypes for these kinds of networks already exist as add-ons to prominent blockchain.
When users can execute transactions securely, instantly, and at almost no cost, the nature of money changes.
Money becomes fluid – or in other words “streamable”. Like the streaming revolution in audio-visual media, streaming money will grant users new and unexpected freedoms.
Why pay employees every month, when funds could be “streamed” continuously? Why wait days and pay steep fees to execute international transactions, when funds can be exchange with anyone on your network in less than a second?
What’s more, the rise of a new medium of exchange is allowing the creation of entirely new kinds of product.
For companies large and small, the use of smart contracts on the blockchain allows them to collapse complex, paper based, supply chain activity into single pieces of software. This is already happening in the international shipping industry, which suffered acutely from barriers to international commerce.
The potential efficiencies for everyone are huge. For example, adding programmable conditions to transactions might allow companies to automatically pay tax as they do business. Moreover, because money could flow continuously along the channel in either direction, there is no reason an automatic network couldn’t handle a complex system of deductions and rebates.
And that’s just tax. No one predicted Netflix. No can say what opportunities emerge as we fundamentally change the nature of money.
This is going to be big
YouTube, Spotify, Netflix, Snapchat – so many of the tech giants that have sprung up in the last two decades are a product in advances in streaming technology.
Blockchain payment networks are set to change the nature of money as fundamentally as the internet changed the way we watch video.
The new streaming revolution is coming. The big start-ups of the next two decades are yet to come.
Header Image: Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, notable movers in the blockchain, bitcoin and NFT space, speaking at Techcrunch Disrupt (2015).