The UAE hosted its second annual Future Blockchain Summit, gathering together thousands of technology industry experts, government bodies and international companies.
Topics of debate at the two-day event included blockchain’s impact upon different sectors and its potential implementation on a worldwide scale.
THE FUTURE OF BLOCKCHAIN
In 2017, blockchain had a market valuation of $706 million, but some experts forecasts that the technology will experience phenomenal growth and rocket to $60 billion by 2024.
The technology has already had a transformative impact on the financial sector through the popularity of cryptocurrencies.
Other industries such as tourism, education, real estate, and healthcare have also begun to incorporate the technology with positive results.
The summit saw experts discussing whether blockchain could be a game-changer for companies across the board or a bubble about to burst.
Vinny Lingham, a panelist on the South African reality television shows Shark Tank and Dragon’s Den, has high hopes for its success.
Nicknamed the ‘bitcoin oracle’, Lingham is also the CEO of Civic, a start-up that encrypts blockchain identity information.
“I think automation is probably the one major use case that spans the industries,” he says, “So, as industries move towards more automation, blockchain becomes more interesting.”
The entrepreneur does not, however, recommend that all businesses rush to plough money into the technology.
“All companies use the internet - they use it for email, messaging, taking orders etc - but not all companies need the internet,” says Lingham, “It’s kind of the same with blockchain, all companies may wind up using it but not all need it.”
BLOCKCHAIN AMBITIONS IN THE UAE
Through an initiative called Smart Dubai, the emirate is planning to become the world’s first Smart City to be fully powered by blockchain technology. It also has ambitions to be completely paper-free by 2021.
The UAE’s second-biggest telecoms company, Du is a strategic partner of the Smart Dubai endeavour and is currently rolling out a healthcare application using blockchain.
“(Blockchain) will make the storage that will make the retrieval and securitisation of your medical records - your medical data - something much more convenient,” says Du’s CEO, Osman Sultan.
Although the cost and implementation of the software is expensive, Sultan predicts that the return on investment will be faster than other types of applications.
“The ecosystems are becoming more complex, multi-stakeholders, multi-dimensions. And fundamentally it will have the potential to impact what we do - to disrupt what we do - and to have an impact on humanity. So we need to be careful, but we need to have faith and I am a techno-optimist.”