Earlier this year, Mob76 Founder Monty Munford hosted an expert panel as part of the TechCity Connect industry event to explore how blockchain has become a go-to technology for everything from improving supply chains to fighting identity theft – and why it’s set to transform finance.

As part of the event, we spoke to Monty, to get his view on the changing perceptions of the technology and how it can find more widespread adoption.

What’s your perspective on the growth of adoption in blockchain and digital assets?

I recently interviewed a panel of decision-makers about what’s going to happen to blockchain and digital assets. They’re all aligned in that we’re going to see more of them, but there are some significant challenges in delivering this, including the security issue. However, we’re seeing new ways of making Bitcoin liquid – it’s very difficult to sell a great deal of Bitcoin if you don’t want to bring the price down, and it’s just difficult to move it around. 

So, now we’re seeing over the counter (OTC) peer-to-peer digital transactions. As a basic example, let’s say I need a haircut. You give me a haircut and I pay you directly in Bitcoin and it goes straight into your account. These technologies offer a much more realistic way of using the currency and, by extension, blockchain. Again, there are plenty of OTC scams that people are falling for. But it’s like anything else. It’s tech based on humanity. There are scammers and there are visionaries.

“People are becoming confident in the technology, which bodes well for blockchain in the long term”

Why do you think the security issues around blockchain and digital assets attract so much attention?

The challenge is that some people think it’s just numbers and that Bitcoin has no value – including many with a media platform. Also, there are plenty who follow an agenda and can’t wait to show how ridiculous it is. Also, the notion that there isn’t fraud in traditional money is far from true.

I’m more confident that the blockchain sector has grown and there are better ways of doing things. I think digital banks have been the big winners during the COVID-19 pandemic, so there are more people getting used to transacting not necessarily online but via mobile. And, while there are still so many holes in that system, people are becoming confident in the technology – which bodes well for blockchain in the long term. It depends on how much you read. The more you read, the more you come to understand it.

Blockchain isn’t difficult to understand, but it’s convincing people who just see it as something that’s connected to terrorism, the dark web, or the selling of drugs when it’s way, way, way more interesting than that. And that’s the challenge people in the industry have to somehow overcome.

“I think blockchain is a better version of the Internet and it should see mass adoption”

How do we educate people about blockchain?

It’s worth looking back at our experience with the Internet. Not many people understood the Internet 22 years ago when it hit critical mass. No one understood what broadband meant, but it’s obvious now. At the time, it was new, and people didn’t understand what it was all about. But it wasn’t like people were going to use it less. We had to look at it as a long-term thing – and that applies to blockchain and to digital assets.

Blockchain is a store of trust, it leaves a trail, it’s immutable and it’s a much better technology than a 20-year old Internet that’s infected with people who can follow your keystrokes, can mess with your money and isn’t a secure protocol. I think blockchain is a better version of the Internet and it should see mass adoption. 

One way this might happen is through people seeing the impact of the technology. I think areas like ‘blockchain for good’ will achieve this, where you can follow the trail of a diamond and make sure no child labour was used in its production. It’s the same with lithium for ion batteries. When people see how the technology can be used, they’ll begin to understand.

Watch the full expert panel from TechCity Connect on-demand to discover more about how blockchain and digital assets have come of age, here.

Monty is a keynote speaker/emcee/moderator/interviewer at prestigious events around the world, focusing on technology change, good and bad, current or emerging. He was previously a weekly tech columnist for Forbes in New York, the Telegraph in the UK and continues to write regularly for the BBC and The Economist. He’s also the founder of tech consultancy Mob76 that helps leading companies raise their profile.