The Main Obstacles in Blockchain’s Way to Mainstream Use

February 28, 2018 - 5 minutes read

By now, you’ve probably read a few articles that wax poetic about the plethora of benefits that blockchain development offers. These articles would have you believe that this disruptive technology is bound to change absolutely everything.

While the hype surrounding blockchain is unreal, the potential actually is there for it to make a substantial global impact. But to accomplish this, proponents of the technology have a few obstacles to overcome.

Volatility & Risk

Under ideal conditions, blockchain can offer unparalleled autonomy and security, virtually eliminating the need for a governing body to monitor transactions. Unfortunately, most real-world applications aren’t exactly ideal. As a result, blockchain and the cryptocurrency culture it has helped propel to global popularity are rampant with market manipulation, scams, government shutdowns, and ponzi schemes. Blockchain is still finding its place in the world, and as a result, there’s no shortage of volatility.

Cumbersome & Complex

If you’ve dabbled with cryptocurrencies, then you know that blockchain transactions can widely vary in processing time. Because they’re only complete when all parties involved have updated their own ledgers, blockchain transactions can take hours or even days. For blockchain transactions to compete with traditional fiat transactions, they’ll have to be just as quick. Unless you like to stand around for a while after purchasing groceries or a coffee, paying with blockchain won’t be viable until then.

To make matters worse, blockchain could become even slower and more convoluted. Besides the mountain of data and numerous computers accessing it simultaneously, blockchain could also get bogged down when it’s integrated with the Internet of Things or any other technology.

Little Appeal to the End-User

Of course, the main challenge to getting the public to adapt to blockchain is the public itself. There’s no shortage of developers in the San Francisco Bay area that appreciate blockchain. But the average end-user doesn’t want to sift through an excess of technical documents just to understand the benefits that blockchain can bring them.

This sentiment is augmented even more when you consider the previous points of this article. Blockchain can be slow and volatile? You can’t blame the general public for thinking that banks and traditional methods in place satisfy their needs just fine. This feeling is already reflected in the fact that Bitcoin’s blockchain network is still the only one to have a respectable number of laypeople using it.

A Formidable Frenemy

To make matters worse, established financial institutions aren’t exactly backing blockchain, either. Banks around the world are boasting about their blockchain development efforts, but this could be only due to the fact that they see mainstream blockchain as inevitable.

In reality, change is hard for everyone, and financial organizations are no exception. It would be much simpler for them if blockchain would just go away and disappear so they could keep operating their business the same way. You can’t blame them — who would want to choose “rocking the boat” and upending traditional methods that could end up being for naught over a safe, familiar, and consistent path to profit?

If blockchain adoption were to slow to a grinding halt, it’s not so inconceivable that many big banks would switch sides almost instantaneously. With their immense wealth and lobbying power, they could then squash blockchain and get back to doing things the way they’d prefer.

These Hurdles Aren’t Insurmountable

If you’ve gotten this far in the article, then you may be feeling mighty pessimistic about blockchain’s role in our future. That’s completely understandable. But the truth is that the advantages that blockchain offers still greatly outweigh any of these roadblocks.

Blockchain technology is still very much in its nascent stages. This means there’s still plenty of time for it to evolve and elegantly overcome each of these barriers. It doesn’t hurt to be cautiously optimistic, especially when it comes to an ever-changing technology like blockchain. But to count it as “down and out” would be a costly mistake.

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