On Wednesday, February 23, Tom McDonald of the Philadelphia Estate Planning Council hosted a Roundtable Webinar titled, “What Does Blockchain Technology and Cryptocurrency Mean To You and Your Clients?” The panel consisted of Andrew Bull of Bull Blockchain Law, Rhonda Okamoto of Diversity in Blockchain, and our own Steve (Mac) McKeon, CEO of MacguyverTech.
The panel discussed a wide variety of topics, ranging from estate law to supply chain technology, and McKeon fielded his fair share of questions.
Q: Thinking about where you are as an individual or a business, should you consider entry into blockchain technology?
McKeon: Well, here are some numbers: The Internet itself is growing at a rate of about 66% per year, and that was the fastest growing technology in history until blockchain. The growth rate of blockchain is 113% year over year, so it’s nearly doubling the rate of the growth of the Internet, and it’s only 13 years old. I’ve seen the dot-com bubble, and this kind of reminds me of that a little bit, but it’s much more aggressive. Blockchain is an ultra-secure technology, built with the highest level of encryption known to man; there’s not a person or entity in the world that can hack these. This is fascinating technology that’s not only going to be great for money, but also supply chain companies like Walmart. They’re really embracing it; they’re already making whispers to vendors, “if you’re not on our blockchain in a few years, you might not be doing business with us.” Some of the retail big boys are already kind of embracing this new technology, and it’s moving at a pretty fast clip. I’m just excited to be part of it
Q: Why is blockchain technology difficult to hack?
McKeon: You’ll hear stuff on the news about how Bitcoin got hacked, but they’re just trying to say, “Hey somebody made a mistake, or something screwed up that’s connected to the blockchain.” Once something is in the blockchain, it’s going to be a slim to none chance of being hacked. You’d have a better chance of getting struck by lightning 100 times in a row than getting into there. It’s unbelievably difficult.
Q: One question that I that I’ve heard and someone asked today here is that there’s a lot of energy needed to mine cryptocurrency. Can you address this?
McKeon: I mine all different types of cryptocurrencies; Bitcoin, Etherium, Doge, you name it. They’re all different. With Bitcoin, the argument is that there’s a lot of energy being used to mine it. Bitcoin itself is the largest distributed computer system in the world. This is a network that requires a lot of resources to keep going. There are much better blockchains that have solved some of the problems. Instead of having a mining algorithm or proof of work, they went to a proof of stake, which reduces the energy consumption to near zero.
Q: One of the stigmas is that Cryptocurrency is used for money laundering or illegal activities. Why is that one of the currencies of choice for criminals?
McKeon: First of all, the largest currency used in the world for money laundering is the US dollar. Bitcoin cryptocurrency doesn’t even remotely come close to it.
There’s a lot of sizzle on the news about this, but the reason why criminals use this initially is because it’s ultra-secure, fast and cheap to send value anywhere in the world. However, there’s far more legal use of this than there is of any of the various activities you’ll hear about from years ago.
Q: One more question for you: How do companies like Wal-Mart create their own blockchain; do they create it internally or do they go to a consultant like you?
McKeon: I wish they would have come to me. They spent billions of dollars over years of building that infrastructure. It’s just like building anything else, it’s a product they’ve been building, refining, and adding to, getting it ready for prime time.
They built it internally, I’m sure with consultants. Wal-Mart has endless resources; they can hire whoever they want. I’d imagine if Walmart is doing it, you’ll have a competitor like Target thinking about how to do it. We already know Home Depot is. I’ve worked for companies that sold to the Home Depot, Walmart and Lowe’s using Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). This is how they settle transactions with vendors. It’s old and clunky now, but it’s a precursor to blockchain. I could see that all being completely replaced from an IT perspective within the next 5 to 10 years. It’s either get on board or get out of the way.
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