Blockchain is still a new idea.

As an enthusiast, it can be easy to forget that. Personally, I read cryptocurrency news every day, I work in crypto, and I’m immersed in the space – I’m not always mindful of the fact that not everyone’s into it, and to the majority of people it’s an abstract concept they’ve vaguely heard of at best. If you ask me, that’s kind of cool.

Not in any gatekeeping kind of way – I love seeing more people get involved in the space. It’s just exciting to realize that despite how much crypto and blockchain news I surround myself with, this is still the very forefront of something massive that hasn’t come to pass yet. A global phenomenon waiting to take the world by storm.

To some, blockchain=crypto, but that simply isn’t the case. Many blockchain solutions don’t even have or need tokens. Examples? A major problem faced by employers is the expensive, time-consuming process of verifying that job candidates have the degrees they claim to on their resume. It can take two weeks and cost twenty bucks just to check with the university, and if you have a job posting that has hundreds of applicants, that can end up being a lot of money. A study showed that one in three employers don’t bother checking – funnily enough, the same study showed that one in three people lie about their credentials!

Blockchain has already been used to solve this, and all that remains now is adoption. By putting academic records on a permanent ledger that can’t be altered, employers can just scan a QR code and immediately check someone’s history without all the out-dated rigmarole. An Australian university is already using the system, and it doesn’t stop there. Blockchain can be used to prevent election fraud, to keep safe and reliable medical records, and replace any number of over-burgeoned systems that simply don’t work any more due to the volume of information. Things are really going to change over the next few years and decades, and blockchain will be at the heart of that change, with and without cryptocurrency.

It’s crazy to think that the IT industry is already short-staffed and in dire need of developers, and that’s been active for decades. Blockchain is even worse – one commonly-used programming language, Solidity, only has an estimated 5000 competent developers in the whole world. Don’t worry though – things are catching on in certain areas faster than others, and those areas are becoming central blockchain hubs that will help shape the course of the future. Let’s see where they are!

Chicago

That’s right. The Windy City is a central location for blockchain developers, with the Chicago Blockchain Center running much-needed Solidity bootcamps among other events that will help bring in new faces to the space as things develop. The city is home to two financial exchanges that were among the first to adopt cryptocurrency future trading (Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Chicago Board Options Exchange), and the Illinois government set up the Illinois Blockchain Initiative to embrace adoption, a very forward-thinking approach indeed.

 

Singapore

Singapore is often in crypto news, with a lot of blockchain and crypto projects coming out of there in recent years (TenX comes to mind, for one). MAS, the Monetary Authority of Singapore, has been very outspoken in support of blockchain, encouraging fintech and blockchain startups and announcing that they have no plans for regulation – just support! The Ubin project has also arisen from the tech-oriented city-state, an initiative launched to collaborate with MAS and explore the applications and benefits of Disributed Ledger Technology (blockchain).

 

Zug

This Swiss town of 30,000 inhabitants may be tiny in comparison to the first two, but the so-called “Crypto Valley” is definitely punching way above its weight world wide, with shops throughout the town announcing their adoption of Bitcoin as a payment method in as early as 2016. The area is a hotbed of blockchain activity, with over 200 blockchain companies and counting! The foundation behind Ethereum is hosted here, and Switzerland’s number 2 ranking in funds generated by ICOs is largely down to Zug.

 

Important Factors: What makes a hub?

Local municipal regulation plays an important role in the creation of a blockchain hub. Switzerland has a long-standing tradition of finance management, and is well-known (for better or worse!) for comparatively radical banking laws that protect user privacy, leading the global elite to flock to the tiny, massively affluent country and entrust it with their money. The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) looks very favorably on blockchain, creating a very healthy atmosphere for blockchain out there in the Swiss Alps.

Illinois has announced their consideration of blockchain as the database and system for creating and maintaining public IDs and Public Assets Management, which would prove to be groundbreaking regulation in the US. Such a move could even have a knock-on effect by appearing in the national news and garnering national attention as other state governments are pressured to explore blockchain.

Of course, Singapore’s hands-off approach has practically redefined the meaning of the term “regulation”, a word almost dreaded by the blockchain community at this point. I’m hard-pressed to think of a government authority that has been more encouraging in the development of this new technology, leading to blockchain emigration as developers and other professionals move to where the money is, and where their work is most likely to make a difference in this crucial phase.

What’s incredible is that these cities have by no means won the race – the world is waking up to the amazing potential of this movement, and as all eyes turn to the global leaders in blockchain, these hubs serve as an inspiration for other communities and governmental mentalities to arise and explore the interesting possiblities that lie ahead. So keep an eye out – these communities are often underground movements that grow and gain municipal support, so you never know – maybe a blockchain hub is gaining traction closer to home than you think!