September 10, 2015

The race to find a killer app for Bitcoin is on

Bitcoin's underlying blockchain technology is one of the most-hyped innovations of the last decade, but no one has found a breakout use case for it yet.

Blockchain, the underlying tech behind digital currency Bitcoin, is tipped as the next big thing in financial technology (FinTech).

Everyone from Richard Branson to Barclays is exploring what it could be used for. Early ideas range from mass payments platforms like the original Bitcoin to George Galloway’s proposal for a decentralised ledger of London’s City Hall spending to bring transparency and accountability to the organisation.

"I think it’s very likely the first breakout use of blockchain is something that nobody is currently working on."

Nick Williamson, Credits CEO and founder.

Blockchain is undoubtedly still in an embryonic stage, and the only thing that’s certain is that we don’t yet know what it’ll be used for in the future.

“There are more use cases are emerging every day,” says Nick Williamson, CEO and founder of Credits a small digital business on the Isle of Man which creates software for businesses to store data in their own custom blockchains.

“I think it’s very likely the first breakout use of blockchain is something that nobody is currently working on,” Williamson told The Memo.

But that might be changing soon.

Finding blockchain’s killer app

FinTech industry body Innovate Finance, along with its members involved in blockchain research and development including Credits, this afternoon announced the creation of a blockchain lab in partnership with the Government-backed Hartree Centre research facility.

Nick Williamson, Credits CEO and founder.

“Currently these blockchain companies are working in silos, this lab is about allowing them to bounce ideas off each other and start testing their applications using Hartree’s powerful computers,” a spokesperson for Innovate Finance told The Memo.

The hope is that by creating a network where companies can collaborate, experiment and test new applications for blockchain, this might help accelerate the discovery of a breakout use case for the technology.

“There’s a lot of work being done behind the scenes to see if this technology is both ready for prime-time and if there are compelling use cases that consumers and businesses might find compelling, it’s still a bit of an open debate,” says Williamson.

“Some of the projects are very open while others are quite secretive, the lab will hopefully create some neutral ground that we can all contribute to and shed some light on the research and findings being done around the industry.”

Innovate Finance’s blockchain lab is launching in October and it is hoped that the first prototype use cases created through the group might be developed by the end of this year.

So hopefully we won’t have to wait too much longer for blockchain’s killer app.

By Oliver Smith