Blockchain Is Not Applicable In Every Industry, Says Ethereum Co-Creator Vitalik Buterin

Blockchain, News | November 27, 2018 By:

Ethereum co-creator Vitalik Buterin said that the misapplication of blockchain technology by companies looking to capitalize on the recent hype ultimately leads to “wasted time.”

In an interview with Quartz at the Devcon4 blockchain conference, Buterin said that while there’s plenty of companies that try to establish higher standards by implementing blockchain, he doesn’t believe the technology is viable in every industry.

“Sometimes it’s for marketing hype,” he said. “Sometimes it’s just people who are genuinely excited about blockchains and want the thing they’re personally excited about and their job to align more with each other, which is a totally legitimate, human thing to want to do. In some cases, I think it leads to a lot of wasted time.”

According to Buterin, transactional-based cryptocurrencies and cross-border payment programs are two industries that will benefit the most from blockchain technology.

“Cryptocurrencies and making international payments easier,” he said. “All of the other ideas—whether we’re talking about products or the self-sovereign identity stuff — that’s clearly something that still needs much more time to be worked out before we can see [whether it] makes sense at scale. Going beyond money, I think the value is that you create a token and you immediately have access to wallets, multi-signature wallets, decentralized exchanges, and just using it as collateral—all of this infrastructure that you wouldn’t have access to if you just created a currency and tried launching it off your own server.”

Buterin also criticized IBM’s blockchain food supply chain network, which is designed to enable organizations in the food industry to run their businesses more effectively and provide safer food at lower costs, saying that while the platform has potential value, he is unsure if IBM is doing it correctly.

“The potential value of tracking food on a blockchain is that you’d get QR codes stamped on the [food] at every step [along] the way, and you as a consumer can scan the code and get confirmation about “here is where the stuff came from,” he said. “Like I can check if it complies with my own moral values or standards for quality and so forth. There’s definitely something there, but whether or not any of the actors there are doing it remotely correctly, I’m much less sure.”

When it comes to non-financial application, Buterin said that his favorite is Singapore’s blockchain diploma initiative. The initiative allows organizations to securely create, deploy, verify, and validate e-certs issued on the blockchain.

“They have an app where you can basically submit the JSON file that corresponds to the certificate and it checks the signature, and it checks the blockchain to make sure that it hasn’t been revoked yet,” he said. “It basically means all these institutions don’t have to maintain their own centralized infrastructure—there isn’t a risk of them being hacked. It’s a common platform where the way to verify it is the same everywhere. And this company’s cooperating with a bunch of universities in Singapore and elsewhere to actually implement this.”