With every significant movement forward in technological innovation, early advocates and adopters will always believe it will change the world. Technologies and products are marketed as ‘magical’ technologies that will change the world as we know it. Think about the widespread shifts that occurred with developments such as the Internet, Facebook, Artificial Intelligence, Siri, and so on. We love the “next big thing” and how it will make life simpler, more fun, or even save companies money.
Blockchain has been hailed as the next big thing and today’s most cutting edge technology, even without an adopted consumer facing platform as of yet. Those that may not know the ins and outs of blockchain can get lost in the “blockchain is magic” narrative. Blockchain can make life easier. But, there is a science behind the magic.
Why It’s Not Magic
Consider this - a viral video does not go viral because the content is amazing or revolutionary. Those funny cat videos on YouTube aren’t extraordinary. Videos goes viral because there are some crafty people behind the video positioning for its viral growth.
Though the video’s virality looks natural and if it has occurred easily, it comes down to a science. Here’s another example - movies don't win Oscars just because they’re great, they win because they combine movie magic with professional campaign teams pushing for award wins through a marketing strategy. Though these Oscar award-winning movies certainly represent some of the year’s best work and are award worthy. But, it’s the science behind the win that propels the movie to victory.
We love compelling stories that are rich and inspiring. Many of the narratives around blockchain have been the same. Some of the more exciting (and perhaps interesting) blockchain use cases are things like eye scanners for refugees, tracking health records in third world countries, and buying and selling solar energy. Sure, these are exciting use cases. But it can take years to implement these blockchain solutions. We can do many, many things with blockchain, and it’s fun to dream about what we can build together. But at the end of the day, how does this cutting edge technology make life better? How does it actually solve everyday problems?
Blockchain is Practical
At its basic level, blockchain is code that makes it possible to create a digital ledger of data that can be shared among multiple independent parties. No central party or authority manages the flow of the data in the blockchain or controls access. This is important because if something were to happen to the central authority every contributing party had demonstrated trust in, all data could (and would) be compromised.
Having data flow managed by the decentralized network of computers is crucial to conducting business with parties you may not trust to play by the rules. This is why blockchain is practical, especially for the mortgage industry. For example, a blockchain solution can preserve data, files and digital records, making them verifiable and independently auditable. This will eliminate the costs of document assembly and save time by ensuring audits and document reviews are only conducted using the correct set of records and data. Records can be easily located and indexed, saving time and money in costly litigation.
Blockchain won’t solve the mortgage industry “garbage in, garbage out” problem. However, it will dramatically reduce auditing and litigation costs, eliminate the need for “checkers to check checkers”, and save time in reproducing the correct version of the loan from hundreds of documents. Three of the biggest issues for the mortgage industry are version control, lost documentation, and quality control. Blockchain can solve them all. It is not a “head in clouds” solution for the mortgage industry. It’s one of the most trusted, practical ways we can move forward as an industry to solve our longest lasting and biggest headaches.
Practicality Can Be Magic
They like to say blockchain solves the trust problem. But instead, it solves the “data reliability” problem. Blockchain brings something that so many other aspects of technology have yet to figure out - how to allow us to trust data. By its very nature, blockchain’s decentralized network provides that there is no central authority in which to place our trust. Instead, we can put our trust back directly with our trading partners, where it always should have been. Just as importantly, once data is verified, it can be relied upon forever to be accurate and true, making it a powerful way to conduct business more transparently.
Blockchain solves for the trust issue that has been increasingly more prevalent since the existence of the internet.
This concept of solving for trust issues is not new. Blockchain also builds on provenance, a concept that originated with the art world. Provenance traces an object’s history and ownership over time, validating authenticity and proving that a painting in question is truly the original. Just as provenance can prove a piece of artwork’s integrity, blockchain tracks data it its various forms, and always points to truth.
We may be in an early adopter phase, but time always moves forward. Technology will never stop moving just as people will never stop dreaming. Make 2018 the year you dream, explore, research, and build what blockchain can become.