Can we Finally Look at Blockchain and Bitcoin Separately?
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Unless you have been living under a rock, the word blockchain wouldn’t have missed your attention over the past one year. Amongst all the hullaballoo that surrounds blockchain, Bitcoin has stood out most prominently. From the wild swings in Bitcoin prices to the emergence of multiple cryptocurrency wallets, the Bitcoin buzz has taken over the world and India is not behind.
But the emergence of Bitcoin has been bereft of challenges in the fastest-growing economy in the world. The Indian government has refused to accept the presence of Bitcoin and has openly said Bitcoin is “not legal tender”. During the Union Budget 2018-19, India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley clarified the government discourages the use of Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency.
Governments across the world too have dismissed cryptocurrencies. China, which although houses the largest community of Bitcoin miners, has begun a crackdown on cryptocurrency websites citing instability as one of the reasons.
With all the controversy surrounding Bitcoin, the use of blockchain - the technology behind Bitcoins - has been left underexplored. While blockchain and Bitcoin have been synonymous for quite some time now, in reality the two are not quite so.
Blockchain technology houses a growing list of records with data stored in blocks. The technology offers to be an open distributed ledger, available for various parties to view. The Indian Government too has given its approval for the use of blockchain as a technology to develop infrastructure for various sectors.
Bitcoin on the other hand is a decentralized digital currency. The common threat between Bitcoin and Blockchain is that the Bitcoin transactions are saved via the blockchain technology.
Recently, Google said it would ban all advertisements relating to companies dealing in cryptocurrency from June 2018. An aggressive move such as this makes one wonder if the world can finally shift its attention to Blockchain, a technology that could change the way every activity is done, without worrying about the ambiguity that surrounds cryptocurrency.
Google’s Move is to Curb ICOs?
The global search engine’s ban comes after the simmering craze of companies to go the Initial Coin Offering (ICO) way. ICOs are offering whereby companies can raise money online by giving away their underlying crypto tokens in exchange for Bitcoin and Ether, another cryptocurrency.
However, the same has been leveraged by companies for fraud. Indian companies who had opted for ICOs earlier too are in full support of Google’s decision to ensure no Bitcoin-related scams take place.
"Predicting the worth of an initial coin offering or cryptocurrencies is extremely complex. One needs a lot of industry insights to judge the right worth. We completely support Google’s move on banning crypto advertisements as there are numerous instances of fraudulent coins out in circulation,” said Ashwarya Pratap Singh, CEO and co-founder of Drivezy.
Singh’s company had raised an ICO earlier, but Singh clarifies that the ICO was restricted to accredited investors and the company never solicited investors via advertisements.
The fear of ICO scams has triggered the move by Google, believes Ashish Agarwal, founder of Bitfeu. He said that unless there is a regulatory authority, it would be difficult to monitor ICOs.
Blockchain is an Interesting Opportunity that Shouldn’t be Dismissed
While the obscurity surrounding cryptocurrencies continues, what can’t be avoided is the security that blockchain ensures.
“Blockchain is a huge subject and its concept as a public ledger that can handle land records, manage supply chain etc., cannot be dismissed,” said Agarwal.
According to reports, NITI Aayog, the Indian Government’s think tank is preparing a discussion paper alongwith proof of concepts on the various use cases of blockchain.
“Blockchain’s benefits — of security, efficiency, and speed — are readily applicable to public sector organizations, and the technology’s potential helps explain why so many government leaders are actively exploring its uses in government,” said Sainath Gupta, founder of primetrade.ai and a Bitcoin veteran & blockchain enthusiast.
With blockchain, its use cases need to be propagated, believes Vishal Gupta, CEO & Founder – SearchTrade.com & Co-founder of DABFI. “Even if you take into consideration something like Ethereum, the fact that it can be used as an automated decentralized smart contract technology is not known to many,” he said.
According to him, we have to look at creating products and services leveraging blockchain and then promote those products.