Bitcoin breached the $5,000 mark, the U.S Department of State (via Deputy Secretary John Sullivan) suggested blockchain technology could be instrumental in the massive department’s restructuring, and CoinShares has launched an exchange-traded note for the cryptocurrency used with the Ethereum blockchain on the Nasdaq Stockholm exchange. The previous weeks witnessed a number of developments showcasing the fact that blockchain technology is becoming more mainstream and has the potential to revolutionize how business is conducted.
Still though, outside of an understanding of what a currency/cryptocurrency is and a basic knowledge of bitcoin, many people are still left wondering why these developments and the technology behind them is important.
The basic concept, being that Bitcoin is used as a currency and is exchanged between 2 parties using blockchain technology in a way that the blockchain acts as a sort-of public ledger, is easily grasped. Unfortunately, due to popular appeal and media coverage, this has caused our understanding of blockchain technology to be unnecessarily restrictive. While Bitcoin utilizes one particular application of blockchain technology, it is far from being the only application possible. Comparatively, using blockchain technology only for the Bitcoin application would be similar to using the Internet only to check the weather outside or browse Wikipedia: this is where Ethereum distances itself from Bitcoin.
Seeking to go beyond Bitcoin’s limited functionality, Ethereum, while employing its own currency, the Ether, to pay for network-related fees, is based around running any decentralised application, not strictly currency ownership. Typically, this sort of multi-tasking would require separate blockchains for each individual application; however, with the Ethereum Virtual Machine software (designed to serve as a runtime environment for smart contracts based on Ethereum), regardless of programming language or the application needed, all applications work synergistically on a single platform. Though the number of applications is greatly expanded, Ethereum, by using blockchain technology, will retain all of the benefits that initially made blockchain technology so attractive- a peer-to-peer system, a lack of centralised control, zero downtime, and a secure, encrypted marketplace.
What could this mean for business? The main benefits of Ethereum are decentralisation and efficiency, or, to put it another way, the reduction of intermediary services through smart contacts (a way of transporting anything of value, money, shares or data, without an intermediary), thus decreasing transactional fees and increasing the speed and efficiency of transactions, or with other words – decreasing business operational costs. Think of it this way: aside from the actual cost of doing business, these are the additional costs of facilitating business, things like regulatory compliance, insurance issues, and financial transactions.
The Ethereum platform already faces an increasing interest from business, seeing the immense growth of the world’s largest open source blockchain initiative, the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, formed this year by thirty big banks, tech giants, and other organisations, with the purpose to use Ethereum network across different business domains.
In the realm of translation services, a platform like Ethereum provides a win-win scenario.
As economic activity becomes more and more decentralised, the need for effective communication can only grow and, with it, the need for comprehensive translations. Alternatively, within the industry itself, adopting blockchain technology (through a provider such at Ethereum) will allow for more efficient transactions, greater security and accountability (especially for sensitive information), and highly customisable interactions based on individual client needs.