The advent of the internet made the transfer of information around the world instantaneous. The transfer of value, however, remained stuck in the past.
The past couple of decades have seen giant leaps forward in just about every industry, yet much of the financial world is still governed by regulation and infrastructure from the 19th century, and that includes payments.
Now all that seems to be up in the air, as DLT is giving people everywhere more options when it comes to how they move their money around the planet.
Blockchain, and Distributed Ledger Technology in general, could finally provide long-awaited breakthroughs for cross-border payments, peer-to-peer payments and micro-payments.
Cross Border Payments
Blockchain technology has the capacity to radically change how international payments are made. There are two main areas where blockchain based payment systems offer huge advantages over traditional international trade settlement.
Firstly, they offer an unprecedented amount of transparency and oversight. And secondly, they drastically reduce the time and cost of sending payments.
Instead of having to use an opaque banking system that gives users few options to keep track of how a payment is sent, blockchain based systems allow fully transparent workflow.
In addition to letting users monitor their payments in real time, blockchain technology creates a high level of safety, as records can’t be tampered with and don’t have a single point of attack.
Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Payments
A DLT based payment system is agnostic to the size of the transaction, and the parties involved.
Payments between two parties are now possible without the intermediation of a system like VISA or PayPal. In addition to the speed of transaction, peer to peer payments can be executed with negligible cost, and across any distance.
The advantages that this sort of trade settlement system creates for people, and small business are vast and widely applicable. In the future, once regulatory and infrastructural issues are ironed out, we’ll be looking at a world in which people can do business with just about anyone else, with little or no additional fees and without having to trust a third party.
In the world of blockchain based payment systems, there is no ‘floor’ for transaction size. Tiny amounts of value can be exchanged, without having to worry about the cost of executing the transaction.
At this point the ways in which this micro-payment capability could engender new economies are still being explored. There are so few precedents in financial history for micro-payments, it is hard to imagine what may evolve.
The rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) creates possibilities for machine to machine micro and nano-transactions. This can create new levels of grid efficiency by allowing things like micro sales of solar or wind power from one machine to another, which are impossible with the current financial system.
People all over the world are looking for ways to use blockchain technology to disrupt and replace existing financial infrastructure. We are still in the early days of the blockchain revolution, but given the incredible potential DLT, blockchain has, it won’t be long until applications begin to emerge and create advantages that we’d have difficulty imagining right now.