Nastradamus: A Legendary Rapper and the Rise of a New Blockchain-Dominated World
The blockchain hype is real. What does it have to do with rap?
When most of us think of Nas, rap comes to mind. After all, he is widely regarded as one of the best hip-hop lyricists ever. Songs like “Hate Me Now” and “One Mic” are contemporary classics and his early 2000s dispute with Jay-Z is legendary. But did you know that Nas was an early Bitcoin investor and is a huge believer in the transformative potential of blockchain technologies? Almost makes you wonder if the title of his 1999 album, Nastradamus (a play on Nostradamus, a 16th Century French physician famed for his prophecies), was about more than just demonstrating to us that Nas is a good rapper.
Blockchain (the technology behind Bitcoin and the subject of Nas’ prophecy) is an open source, peer-to-peer, distributed database that can be used to authenticate or settle transactions without the need for a powerful centralized intermediary, such as a bank. To-date, blockchain’s application to the modern economy has been most evident in the rise of cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, though the technology itself is industry agnostic — not designed in a manner specific to financial transactions.
There’s no escaping the fact that it is Bitcoin that has made blockchain famous. This was true two years ago and is especially true now given the meteoric rise in Bitcoin value over the last year. Bitcoin’s success has driven massive investment into other blockchain, and in particular cryptocurrency, related products, such as Ethereum and Ripple. Heck, the Long Island Iced Tea Corporation saw its share price increase over 180% overnight after announcing it was changing its name to Long Blockchain!
While cryptocurrencies are generating much of the hype regarding blockchain technology’s potential, there are no shortage of other potentially transformative use cases, including:
- Supply chain management — using “blockchain to transfer title and record permissions and activity logs so as to track the flow of goods and services between businesses and across borders.”
- Healthcare exchanges — “Blockchain technology has the potential to transform health care, placing the patient at the center of the health care ecosystem and increasing the security, privacy, and interoperability of health data.”
- Or even the reinvention of the Internet itself (!) — “Many experts believe blockchain, the technology that is already decentralizing monetary transactions among other things, is the key to solving the decentralized internet puzzle.”
In combination, these blockchain-driven innovations are expected to radically increase global trade and the functioning of the international economy more generally. Indeed, seasoned experts writing in reputable media outlets such as the Financial Times and Foreign Affairs believe that the widespread adoption of blockchain technology will reduce friction in the international economy, significantly increasing the volume, speed, and security of trade. And Deloitte has even gone as far as to predict that at least 10% of global gross domestic product will be stored on blockchain platforms by 2025.
The blockchain hype is real, for sure. Translating hype into real results, though, is another matter. Thus far, cryptocurrencies remain the only widely adopted and broadly successful application of blockchain technologies. We at Valence think that’s a shame. So we’re doing something about it! In addition to spending lots (and lots. and lots!) of our time studying both the internal workings of blockchain technologies and its adaptation across various related platforms, we’ve developed our own innovative use case that we believe can massively increase the efficiency and usability of a system close to everyone’s hearts — cashing in rewards points (e.g. airline miles) for new products and services.