The volatility in cryptocurrency prices might be stressful to some traders, but those who follow the underlying technology of the blockchain are more excited than ever as new and more practical use cases are being developed.
Digital Currency is Only One Use for Blockchain
However, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are only the first use case for blockchain technology. There are many more in development, with applications in sectors as varied as health care, artificial intelligence, travel, auto sales, waste management, and crowdfunding.
While there is still a long way to go before we are all using blockchain regularly in our daily lives, there are some already existing applications that bring us closer to this goal.
Below are some ways you can use blockchain right now in your everyday life.
The Brave Browser
Brave is a blockchain-powered web browser. In September 2018, Brave exceeded 10 million downloads from the Google Play Store. Currently, four million people use Brave each month and it has 26,000 content publishers.
Brave is appealing because it protects the data privacy of users. It prevents the unauthorized collection of personal information and stops unwanted ads from using up data and processing power. The company estimates the average mobile user pays as much as $23 a month in data charges to download ads and trackers. Brave blocks ads and trackers, so users don’t pay for them. Brave is also faster than other web browsers because it blocks these resource consuming intrusions.
Brave has its a native cryptocurrency, the Basic Attention Token (BAT). This means readers of Brave content can also reward publishers while they are browsing with BAT tokens, thus monetizing content for creators, not advertisers. Soon users will be able to opt-in to view adverts in return for rewards paid in the BAT cryptocurrency.
Cyber-FM Online Radio
Cyber-FM is an online radio service that has partnered with Mainstream for the Underground (MFTU) to create a blockchain-based solution to problems with the current royalty payment systems in the music industry. Currently, there are copyright and royalty payment systems enforced in most countries through government regulation. To offset the costs of payments to artists, online radio networks have monetized content using subscription systems, membership perks and traditional broadcast advertising.
Problems with the current royalties model are described in a report from the Rethink Music initiative, and they include difficulty in tracing who owns what performances, complicated money flows that are not well understood by artists, and record and publishing companies deliberately trying to obscure what they owe and to whom. Moreover, most independent artists around the world are left out of the royalty system altogether because they are not signed to a distribution label and not a member of a professional rights performance organization. This leaves independent artists unable to benefit from royalty regimes, even if they are flawed.
Through the use of blockchain technology, Cyber-FM and MFTU are combining listeners’ access to music and the management of artists’ royalties. Artists are able to join the MFTU community free of charge, have their music distributed through Cyber-FM to hundreds of thousands of people all over the world, and get paid for each time it is listened to. Meanwhile, listeners get unlimited music streaming and access to music through mobile applications. Membership in MFTU is not restricted to artists registered with a recognized performance rights organization. Independent artists can equally benefit.
PundiX is a blockchain startup that aims to use cryptocurrency to create a global cashless payment system. Its blockchain-enabled Point-of-Sale (XPoS) devices let shops, cafes and convenience stores sell cryptocurrency and accept cryptocurrency payments for goods and services. All a merchant has to do it have an XPoS in their store. The device works with a simple mobile wallet (XWallet) that customers use to make payments in physical stores. It has a simple interface for buying and selling BTC, ETH, XEM, and QTUM. It also has a check-out menu to execute purchases with cryptocurrencies. With every transaction, the XPoS prints a receipt for the customer and tracks orders and inventory for the store owner.
PundiX delivered its first 500 units in late June 2018 to participating businesses located in Hong Kong. Pundi is now accepting orders from merchants wishing to install their XPoS system and plans to deliver 100,000–700,000 XPoS devices to at least 12 different countries over the next three years.
The PundiX devices interact with two blockchains — Ethereum and NEM (XEM). Nem was chosen because it is popular with Asian financial institutions, and its technology enables nearly instantaneous payments. The PundiX project builds on the success of Pundi-Pundi, which is already a popular (non-blockchain-based) cashless payment app in Indonesia that uses smartphones to make instant payments in retail and restaurant outlets.
At this stage, to take advantage of blockchain technology you need to use decentralized applications (dApps). Dapps bridge blockchain and conventional technology allowing them to interact. Most dApps are built on the Ethereum blockchain. Though other blockchains like EOS and TRON are also seeing increasing dApp development. Given the uneven development of blockchain technology, it's likely that dApps will grow in popularity in the short-term.
MetaMask is a browser add-on that lets users access Ethereum-based dApps. It has an integrated wallet too, so dApp token transactions can be done seamlessly. The wallet can track balances across multiple applications and platforms, integrate with hardware (“cold”) wallets, and help secure token transfers. A mobile version of MetaMask is planned for release in 2019.
CryptoKitties was one of the first dApp entertainment platforms to go mainstream. It is an interactive cat-breeding game where cats (“cryptokitties”) can be created and traded. Amazingly, some rarer cryptokitties have sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Soon, Cryptokitties users will be able to import CryptoKitties NFTS into the dApp to fight in mortal combat style matches to win kittiefight tokens & ETH.
In total, the CryptoKitties dApp has executed 3.2 million blockchain-based transactions. It has been so popular it put pressure on the Ethereum blockchain to improve its speed and scalability to keep up with transaction volume. However, the popularity of CryptoKitties has waned in recent months. Down from a high of nearly 10,000 daily users, it now has around 3,000.
CryptoKitties creator Dappper Labs (based in Vancouver) recently raised $15 million from Venrock, Google Ventures, and Samsung Next, to fund its latest expansion. The big name backers reflect the growth potential of CryptoKitties. Dapper Labs is working with top entertainment brands to increase blockchain’s mainstream usage.
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Sections of this article were originally published in The Startup.