17 Dec The blockchain challenge
In the early 1990’s, a good number of college and even school students used to learn typewriting and shorthand. Stenography was a respectable profession in those dark days when jobs were hard to come by. But slowly at first and then very fast, the bottom dropped out of the typewriting and shorthand training institutes. The training institutes did not see it coming. Neither did the parents who sent their children to these classes. The last ones to get the message were the students who had spent several hours of their life working hard to get the typewriting and shorthand credentials. With the advent of personal computers and word processors, suddenly there was no need for stenographers.
Today, we are having another “stenography” moment. It is not really apparent, but change is in the air. Earlier this month, Telangana announced the formation of India’s first blockchain district in partnership with Tech Mahindra. But, what is this blockchain and why should you care? Blockchain is the technology underpinning the bitcoin and other crypto currencies. But, bitcoin and crypto currencies are now banned in India, right? In fact, one of the largest scams in recent times is the Bitcoin scam that is worth over Rs 1,500 crores, perpetrated by Amit Bharadwaj. So, the block chain should also be banned, right? Wrong.
You see, the bitcoin was the number one killer app of the blockchain technology. The bitcoin blockchain was the world’s first blockchain. However, there has been a Cambrian explosion in terms of organisations trying to solve serious real world problems using this new technology.
Much of this is built around the Ethereum blockchain, a general purpose blockchain that is more powerful than the bitcoin blockchain. No less a government body than NITI Aayog, the government think tank, is firmly behind the blockchain technology in India.
To start with there are numerous areas in India where the blockchain can add significant value. To name a few, tamper-proof land records, verifiable higher education certificates, trade finance and so on. As we are aware, a lot of us are plagued by bogus land records which makes holding land as an investment a risky proposition. Likewise, the job market is flooded with candidates with fake degrees. Now, if educational institutions can have the degrees that they confer on the blockchain, the authenticity can be verified easily by anyone. This will increase the market value of genuine degree holders.
The most important thing for young people like you is that, as the blockchain disrupts and makes obsolete several conventional industries, new and exciting opportunities open up for those of you who become proficient in this technology.
There is a dearth of good blockchain developers and strategists. In the next decade or so, several thousand high paying jobs will be created around the blockchain, even as several thousand conventional jobs disappear. Join the bandwagon and prosper.
The writer is an alumnus of IIM Bangalore and co-founder, Money Wizards. firstname.lastname@example.org