Bitcoin has been gaining popularity as a next-gen digital currency. The security, visibility and efficiency offered through the blockchain - a secure, highly encrypted network that serves as the foundation for all Bitcoin transactions - make it highly useful when it comes to thwarting cyber criminals and would-be identity thieves.
As a result, other industries are beginning to explore Bitcoin and blockchain technology for themselves. IBM has invested 200 million in blockchain technology. New startup companies raised nearly 300 million via the blockchain in the first half of 2016 and, according to some reports, 90 percent of major banks in North America and Europe are currently exploring the blockchain for their own applications.
An alternative to cash or online credit payments, Bitcoin is an extremely volatile form of currency that only exists within a digital state. It is subject to a number of different factors that affect the value of a single Bitcoin, which can drive the price either up or down as the market dictates.
Bitcoin reached an all-time-high of nearly $1,300 in value, but the uncertainty of the next-gen currency keeps it in a state of constant fluctuation.
The blockchain foundation is used to record and track every single Bitcoin transaction. This makes it impossible to forge fraudulent Bitcoins and enter them into the network. It also provides a high level of transparency for any transactions completed through the network. While making transactions, it's still recommended to take the necessary security precautions to safeguard your identity while you're connected to the internet. Corporations and enterprises commonly use VPNs to encrypt data for remaining anonymous or to provide remote access to in-house assets. Since industries are starting to look at this technology for their customers, it's important that they keep transactions safe and secure.
Various countries are already introducing Bitcoin and blockchain functionality to the real estate practice. Sweden recently began testing a system to register and archive land titles via the blockchain. The Swedish National Land Survey hopes the blockchain will reduce the number of manual errors while ultimately bolstering the security of document transfer and management. Cook County, located in the state of Illinois, has implemented blockchain into the sector of commercial real estate. With a primary purpose of eliminating fraudulent title transfers and other similar transactions, county officials want to use Bitcoin in commercial real estate sales through a pilot program before committing to the platform across the board.
As pointed out by John Mirkovic, communications director with the Cook County recorder's office, a transition to digital or cryptocurrency could make it harder to complete fraudulent transactions while easing consumer concerns about corrupted or lost data.
Still, there are some major obstacles to overcome. Without any solid laws or regulations in place regarding Bitcoin or the blockchain, and with some current laws that might undermine or prevent the integration of digital currency, the transition will be anything but straightforward. It might even require some existing laws to be rewritten and some brand-new ones to be established, which just adds to the overall amount of time required to implement such a system.
Mirkovic also points out that in order to be successful, a program such as this would need to be rolled out across multiple municipalities within the state. Considering the slow pace of Bitcoin adoption so far, this is also going to be an incredibly slow process.
New users will need to explore, digest and learn this unfamiliar system before they fully implement across an industry. While younger professionals and entrepreneurs are usually quick to embrace new technologies, those who rely on tradition will certainly hesitate to make the change. Convincing these individuals might be the biggest challenge of all.
There's also the issue of the long-term storage of Bitcoin. Because the technology is meant to eliminate the need for banks, there isn't a central repository to rely on. Individual buyers and sellers can store small amounts of Bitcoin in their accounts, but this isn't advisable for large amounts. In this case, most experts agree that offline cold storage is the best route. USB drives, offline hardware-based wallets and even paper wallets are great options when considering cold storage.
While it's not entirely bulletproof, Bitcoin and its blockchain foundation is one of the most secure digital platforms we've seen thus far. The high visibility of blockchain-based transactions makes it easy for the public to monitor investments and verify trades on their own, thereby providing an unprecedented level of collaborative security. However, the relative newness of the technologies used, as well as the shakiness of the current Bitcoin market, has many potential users thinking twice. Time will tell if this technology many will adopt this technology.