Most in the digital space agree that blockchain-derived technologies are going to become mainstream in the next decade, even those don’t understand how it works (hint: you don’t need to). The beauty of blockchain is that it solves so many of the current challenges facing an automated and globalised society.
Anyone who has played with the technology, even around edges, can appreciate the simplicity of a platform that encompasses crypto, trust, auditing, and open access using a distributed database model. For many there is a moment of clarity, a lightbulb moment.
The rise of blockchain-derived platforms is tightly packed around areas that require absolute trust – think Bitcoin for financial transactions and Etherium for smart contracts. It won’t stop there, of course. Anywhere there is the need for a transaction to be struck in an assured manner and with a predefined outcome, blockchain offers a solution.
The potential savings are immense, not just in hard-currency terms, but time, legal, resources, and even emotional load. Yes, blockchain might yet reduce the tears.
Take marriage as an example.
At its core, marriage is a contract between two people (in the UK), made out in the open and irrevocable – it’s a contract made in joy. It often fails to play out that way, frequently ending in divorce (termination of the marriage contract). Its a fairly trivial matter to echo the marriage contract including the termination elements onto a blockchain.
This allows the contract to evolve over time and each iteration (or version) would require validation and would be definitive. Any level of complexity could be added and that includes referring to data that exists off-chain (e.g. bank accounts, land registry data, share ownership).
And if the worst happens, the divorce (or the termination process if you will) is already defined and ratified by both parties. Execution can be efficient, fair (in so far as the original contract was fair), low-cost and with less of the bitterness and acrimony that occurs when trust is absent or lost.
And here’s the nub. On the contrary to paper-based contracts, a blockchain-derived approach is not a contract that remains the same over the entire life of the marriage. It can, and should, change with every change in asset ownership, offspring, inheritance, health, or any other factors that the couple decide to incorporate.
Anyone who has divorced or been very close to another who has will appreciate how destructive the process is. Actors stop communicating, bureaucracy takes over, lawyers procrastinate, and disputes can become deeply entrenched. The result is massive human suffering with the only winners being the lawyers.
There is some work still required to make this a reality – blockchain smart contracts are not enforceable in law. Yet.