The path to Blockchain technology: pros and cons

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The new I-COM initiative – the Blockchain and Advanced Research Subcommittee, launched last August, has gathered for a second time to discuss the possibilities of blockchain technology with the brightest experts in the field. 

The hot topic during the last meeting was the possible applications and challenges of blockchain technology within the industry. As we know it, blockchain technology is an open digital ledger that can record transactions between two parties, using encryption for security and accountability promising transparency on running online marketplaces. But despite the possible benefits of this and other related technologies, the working group agrees that there are challenges to consider as well. 

As Dr. Kajal Mukhopadhyay Ph.D. - Managing Partner, Mindshare, USA, outlined during the meeting: “The engineering, computational, technology and mathematics of the chain and network will be solved fairly soon, probably by the end of next year. And we will have very robotic platforms where transactions will be done super-fast. But there is another point regarding what it means to radically change the way ours systems behave. How can we develop smart contracts, which are process-oriented, and leave no room for error or moral hazard in terms of deceiving people”. Also, Andy Fisher, Chief Analytics Officer at Merkle, pointed out that “we need to talk more about the application of blockchain to data, specially data providence, within programmatic media. There is a huge opportunity there. And also provide a really crisp example which can explain to advertisers the value of blockchain”. 

One of the possible uses of blockchain technology is with the instant micropayments Lightning Network protocol, which was also reviewed during the meeting. This protocol allows lightning-fast blockchain payments in a scalable, low cost (or even free) and more secure way, allowing millions to billions of transactions per second across the network. In this case, the blockchain is just an arbiter (or a backup court system) as it is possible to conduct transactions off-blockchain without limitations. 

Regardless of the many advantages for the advertising industry, there are also some risks with the use of this protocol. Firstly, in order to make a transaction, a person needs a private key available in an online environment – which can be easily stolen. Secondly, the transaction needs to be monitored by someone who can ensure the payment is done within a specific window of time or else the money can be lost. And thirdly, as the network relies entirely on an online system, it is vulnerable to malicious attacks. 

If you want to contribute to the discussion, you can still join the I-COM Blockchain and Advanced Research Subcommittee. The next meetings’ discussions will be around themes such as Ecosystem benefits and challenges at workflow, real levels and user privacy, and Blockchain as a solution to stop advertising fraud and increase transparency, with presentations from Brave Software, NYIAX, and others. 

More information available at http://www.i-com.org/blockchain-and-advanced-research-subcommittee.