Why do we need it if there is already a centralized solution?
Blockchain: One of the most valid criticisms is that there is already a centralized solution for everything, so why do we need blockchain solutions? Kurt Ivy explains why blockchain technology will always be superior.
Many smart and well-meaning people accept the fact that crypto and blockchain work as intended, but there is only one problem:
For every blockchain solution, isn’t there a centralized solution that does it better? This seems to be the basic question. Tear up all the hype, ideals and specifics, and you’re left with this. Do we really need it?
I have to admit, this puzzled me in several conversations. But that’s only because I wasn’t ready to give the obvious answer that we’ve explained a thousand times in a thousand different ways.
TL; DR: Blockchain solves the problem of digital ownership.
Plain and simple. Here is a little more: the blockchain responds to the problem of centralized control. Who has custody of the information/flow of information? Are they handling accountability properly? Are they making a huge profit just because they control something simple that anyone else could do just as easily?
With blockchain technology, NO ONE controls the information. Access to information becomes a public service and access to information defines the fundamental functioning of the Internet. That’s all.
Let’s be clear :
The internet and the systems built on it have become what roads, power lines and plumbing are in real life.
Payment solutions, banking and commerce – these are PUBLIC SERVICES. They are a necessity, not a luxury.
So you see… It doesn’t matter if centralized entities are more efficient solutions in some respects. This is because these centralized entities abuse their position and exploit the systems society needs to function properly. If we could trust individuals to do what is best for the country when they have absolutely no incentive and responsibility to do this, companies like Amazon and Uber would be great. Clearly, our trust was misplaced and we trade some comforts for wealth and autonomy. This is proving disastrous for the future of our society.
These centralized solutions are not more efficient. They seem to provide something big on the surface. Beneath the surface, they are slowly drying up countries.
Let’s dig into some details. The NFT page on the Ethereum website has a really awesome and simple infographic to explain the benefits of NFTs:
The second point here is another quick summary of my explanation. Ownership of digital records – accounts, memberships, inventories – is stored on servers controlled by institutions. We have to trust them with this information. For example, Amazon wields massive control over e-commerce simply because it has custody of the digital assets – the inventories – and controls how they are displayed. They take a share of the profits from both sides of a transaction to generously reward themselves for being the middleman.
Shiv Sakhuja posted a great article on the usefulness of NFTs. I want to address some of his points through the prism of centralized versus decentralized information custodianship.
But first, e-commerce
It’s not one of his examples, but the role of blockchain technology in retail and e-commerce cannot be overemphasized. First, let’s look at the most basic building blocks of e-commerce:
- The seller uploads data to the website
- The buyer consults the data
Now, who is going to own and manage all this data? If we allow a central institution to manage the data, it will certainly abuse its position of power and put a strain on e-commerce activities.
Instead, we can use blockchain to facilitate data storage and monetary transactions. No one owns the blockchain, yet it is cost effective and secure. An e-commerce platform built on the blockchain would provide all the public services that a centralized institution could provide, but there would be no fees or censorship. No product theft.
eNFT – A fix with a known issue
You see, all we need is someone or something to trust our data to. The blockchain offers this solution. Instead of uploading product data to a website, it can be downloaded as NFTs or BOUTIQUEX e-commerce NFT (eNFT) to be exact. With this, centralized entities will no longer control product data and, therefore, will not control e-commerce.
Blockchain does not demand profit. It does not charge any fees (apart from small handouts to keep the system online). Applications built on the blockchain are accessible to anyone at any time. This is the foundation of a true free market. A digital space where people can buy and sell, just as they would in real life, without a third party interfering in their business and taking a stake.
Another great utility that eNFTs bring to e-commerce that centralized solutions can’t (or won’t) is interoperability. Currently, each e-commerce platform has its own infrastructure to maintain and distribute retail data. This data is not transferable from one platform to another. To transfer the inventory, each piece of information must be re-entered, little by little.
eNFTs offer a solution to this problem. Once the product data is downloaded as an eNFT, it can be used on any compatible e-commerce platform. Data entry becomes a one-time event. This also normalizes data across platforms.
Tickets, music and video games
These are the low-hanging fruits of what NFT technology has access to. To address all three in the context of digital property, the problem is clear: centralized institutions act as intermediaries for all three.
What are the basic concepts here? Tickets are something that venues sell to attendees. Music is something artists sell to fans. Games are something creators sell to gamers (this one’s a bit more complicated, hang in there). If we could cut out the middleman out of all three (ticket distributors, labels, and studios), we could focus profits and attention on what really matters. The contents.
Blockchain and banknotes
Box office is not a terribly managed industry, but there are still huge profits to be made by getting in the way of artists/venues and fans. The use of NFTs has other advantages that centralized entities cannot provide. Secondary market control is a big advantage here. You may think that’s actually a bad thing. Why would we want more control instead of more freedom? Well, ticketing is a very special case.
Regarding the secondary market, neither venues nor buyers want overpriced tickets, fake tickets, ticket transfers without payment/payment without having the ticket, or transfers that are too complicated. NFT tickets can be transferred securely without worrying whether the other party will pay or give you a fake ticket. And the price may be stuck, unable to rise.
Blockchain and music
There are endless issues with labels having complete control over artists. Artists become tools of the label rather than a tool the artist uses to distribute their music. It also degrades the quality of the music. Recently, there was a story about an artist whose label wouldn’t produce her music unless she made a viral Tik Tok video. The talents of the same artist were used to help another artist produce better quality songs.
What happens is that a money-making machine is created. This machine has only one goal: to produce songs that make money. Artists and art become secondary to sales. Music NFTs like Yellowheart place control of music rights in the hands of the artist. If and when music NFTs take off, artists will no longer need to rely on labels to protect and distribute their information. The information storage system – the NFT – does not belong to any individual or institution. As long as the artist is able to promote themselves, they will be able to keep all of their earnings.
Blockchain and video games
The studios are technically not the intermediaries between the creators and the players. The studios are the creators. But in recent years, studios have become for-profit entities, and creators within studios are becoming their tools. When smartphones made apps highly accessible and iPhone games took off, many studios turned to paid games with microtransactions because it’s the most profitable model today. Small, inexpensive games that would normally cost a dollar can slowly add up to tens or sometimes hundreds of dollars.
This, combined with other in-game purchases like skins and items, is pure profit for the studios. Some studios release free games, which depend on in-game purchases from those willing to spend the money. Why not give these players ownership of their purchases and the ability to resell them? This would encourage the creation of high-quality collectibles instead of cheap boosts that cannot be resold. The studio will profit from resale royalties and gamers will profit from their hard work.
No, blockchain is not a solution looking for a problem
In short, blockchain is the only technology capable of securely and efficiently storing proof of digital ownership. The ability to claim digital information was impossible before, unless you owned the infrastructure that stored the information. The blockchain provides an infrastructure to store information that no one owns and that anyone can access. This utility is absolutely necessary for society and will have a huge ripple effect on many different industries and therefore on our whole society.
About the Author
Kurt Ivy is content writer for SHOPX and Gamerse, Marketing Advisor for Altar, Chief Content Officer at Crypto PR Labs and CEO of Coffee Nova. Ivy is a philosopher, futurist, writer and entrepreneur.
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