To the general public, the buzz around blockchain is focused primarily on the skyrocketing rise in Bitcoin prices and the growing market value of other cryptocurrencies like Ethereum, Litecoin, and Ripple. For developers though, blockchain is a "Crouching Tiger" in Enterprise business and it's set to pounce to the forefront of many business processes we touch on a daily basis.
We caught up with Josh Mather, Sr. Solutions Consultant at Vantiv, Now Worldpay (jmather) and he had some revealing insights for where developers will find a healthy focus on adoption into Enterprise business. His message: If blockchain has not found its way into your coding sprint, get ready because it's coming soon to a standup near you.
Q: Josh, what are your biggest takeaways around blockchain for 2018?
Firstly, we're starting to see the regular adoption of the technology in enterprise organizations. There are things like the IBM Hyperledger coming in to manage particular networks between different supply-chain ecosystems. Secondly, don't panic. Developers do not necessarily need blockchain programming experience to succeed in the future. But try to understand what does a completely decentralized global system look like and how can you tackle that from a developers' perspective? Ask yourself what little piece can you start at and work on? The past year was a period where blockchain became a buzzword. In 2018, I see a lot of core pieces of infrastructure being built around blockchain right now and this will filter out over the next few years where we'll then see the application layers get built-out as companies have more use-cases for blockchain technology.
Infographic download link at bottom of article
Q: Even for developers, there's still a lot of confusion around how blockchain development will find it's way into Enterprise business. Can you give us an example of how blockchain will change Supply Chain Management?
Blockchain in supply chains provides a new traceability system for material and product traceability. The blockchain gives unchangeable visibility that can be audited and remain secure through a supply chains lifecycle and beyond. It allows anyone to track the provenance of anything. Just look at the infographic below to see how the relationship between the farmer, the food manufacturer and you, the consumer, can benefit from blockchain technology to trace food production, assist in the tracking of the manufacturing and processing, provide better management of food safety and finally aid in the transportation of food to the consumer. There are efficiencies all along the supply chain lifecycle.
The term "Farm to Fork" could be the new blockchain managed ecosystem for food retailers to manage food safety while offering the potential for better management and increased profits.
Infographic download link at bottom of article
Other Enterprise Industries Using blockchain Applications.
- Financial Services
- Health Services
- IBM and the US Food and Drug Administration started a partnership to work on a scalable health data exchange to address lack of transparency in health data while improving the trust in patient privacy.
- Auto Industry
- Volkswagon and Renault are testing vehicle telematic tracking, capturing vehicle mileage, engine use, repair history and other data on blockchain to store a historical accounting of use for insurance, maintenance and resale purposes in Germany.
- Toyota is using blockchain to test the purchase of secure, private driving data to build autonomous vehicle driving algorithms.
- Airbus joined Blockchain at Berkley to test Proof of Concept for parts tracking technology using blockchain.
- Cisco now has a patent delving into using blockchain technology to help verify the identity, safety, and trustworthiness of various devices connected to the internet.
Q: Josh, where do you see blockchain making its way into the payments industry? You mentioned some interesting news from Coinbase. For those unfamiliar, Coinbase is one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges.
This is called, Coinbase Commerce and it allows you to exchange cryptocurrency as a form of payment in a global fashion through an easy integration with the exchange. They have one of the most well-known eCommerce platforms, Shopify, already integrated into the system.
Coinbase is expanding their merchant services. They are offering a way to do an integration through Coinbase for the exchange of goods for a merchant. Much like Vantiv Now Worldpay does transactions in fiat currency, now Coinbase is taking that model and getting it out to developers to build a crypto payment model much like PayPal.
"We're going to find that is a very big moment in the crypto world. It's the largest exchange in the world and they are getting into the payments industry" From a developers perspective, they're thinking "WOW I can write code for a crypto payment"
Q: How can developers get started in blockchain?
For developers in payments, you need to ask yourself what is the mechanism to bring blockchain into your enterprise? Is it a KYC / AML component? Perhaps your focus should be looking into identities where the Know Your Customer and Anti Money Laundering components can be improved. There are blockchain projects that bring that to the table and ways for a customer to identify themselves on the blockchain. There's also been some blockchain work around remittances and cross-border payments with Stellar and Ripple where Ripple is going down the traditional banking route and Stellar is going down the partnership route model to facilitate these transactions across borders.
Blockchain development is growing at a rapid pace. At the end of 2017, the job market had grown nearly 200% and it is rated as one of the top 20 fastest-growing job skills. That said, it can be tough to gain experience with this new technology. One way is to roll up your sleeves and contribute to an open source project. Many welcome the help and cherry pick the most passionate contributors.
We also spoke with Andrew Harris (andrew.harris) about how developers can start a thriving coding group at your business.
Q: Andrew, what words of wisdom can you pass along to developers looking to start coding in blockchain with an active peer group?
Sometimes the hardest part of doing “cool stuff” in the office (on your own time mind you) is finding that early morning, late evening, or lunch-hour time to commit to learning something new.
Luckily developers are perpetual learners and avid problem solvers. However, not all developers enjoy spending their personal time in group learning environments and the web is full of excellent resources for those of us that would rather read on our own about blockchain and step through various tutorials and walkthroughs around blockchain, bitcoin, and decentralization.
One of my colleagues was interested in teaming up and once we would each digitally drag a late morning user story from "in progress" to "done" status, we would then occupy a conference room over our lunch hour and read and explore blockchain through our combined brainpower. After a few sessions, we would start writing code and put the theories to practice. I know for me, applying something practically helps it soak in. Soon others were curious what we were doing.
If you are interested in starting your own grassroots "lunch-n-codes" session in your office just ask around and I bet you will find teammates open to the idea. Surely there are others with similar interest in tech, right? Be prepared to barter as well. If you want to spend group time working on a machine learning application using python and various frameworks then be open to working with your peers on something they might be interested in as well, such as blockchain, altcoins, or decentralized ledgers. You will be surprised how easily you can get a group interested in these types of lunch and code events.
One last bit of advice, don’t make it rigid, truly keep it agile. If someone wants to talk about their weekend for half of the time it is okay. Developing personal connections are not a bad thing.
Why do it? At the end of the day, you are adding to your skill set and more importantly can charm your friends with words like ripple, crypto, fat protocols, and my favorite: hash.
If you're interested in learning more about blockchain, check out the following articles on blockchain technology.