Can Smart Contracts Ever Gain Mainstream Adoption?

yale lock

Conor Maloney

April 27, 2018

When people think cryptocurrency, lots of things come to mind.

Those sweet, sweet gains being chief among them. Lambos, memes, shitcoins, greatcoins, ICO madness, influencer drama – it’s the wild west out there, and there’s a lot going on.

When people think blockchain use cases, however, they think smart contracts. That’s what’s going to be the real game changer. I don’t mean to sound like a broken record here, because I like to write about how huge blockchain could be quite a lot – but it’s true. It all comes down to whether people will actually adopt blockchain and find a real use for it.

Of course, one of the most promising signs is the influx of big businesses integrating blockchain into their logistics. Walmart, Amazon, Samsung – it goes on. It looks good, but like I said, we’re still in the very early stages of this thing, and there are actually a huge amount of things that can and perhaps will go wrong before we ever see real adoption.


But “muh blockchain is immutable!”

Yes, it is. That doesn’t mean people can’t exploit poor design flaws. With only 5000 competent Solidity (blockchain language) programmers in the world, good talent is hard to come by and a lot of blockchain development is experimental at the moment. Mistakes can and do happen – here’s a list of Ethereum smart contract hacks that have already occurred, with the author strongly urging people adopting smart contracts to hire a professional auditor to look into whether they’ve got a good system up and running before releasing it into the wild.

Projects like Quantstamp, EOS, and OmiseGO are on it are working on it, with Quantstamp just recently joining the Ethereum Community Fund. Quantstamp is the first ever auditing protocol, and as the website says the protocol is “Designed to secure all smart contracts, cost effectively, in a scalable manner.”

EOS is a full infrastructure protocol designed to handle and scale DApp development, and OmiseGO is a wide-reaching project designed to handle cross-border crypto microtransactions as well as offering “secure and rapid transaction clearing with the use of Ethereum smart contracts and protocol consensus”.

With the recent chaos created smart contract bugs causing ERC20 tokens to be delisted pending maintenance, these projects are providing a vital service to the space that is essential to the continued growth and adoption of blockchain and smart contracts.

Blockchain is incredible technology that can solve a huge amount of inter-industry problems – I think the main issue in this case is its use as a buzzword, a magical catch-all solution that can never fail. It’s a question of human error – good blockchain programming will leave you with a good system, bad programming won’t.

If It Ain’t Broke…

Don’t replace it with a blockchain system for no reason! That’s how the expression goes, right? Something like that.Sure, blockchain is disruptive super-tech that can improve upon existing legacy systems. But, it’s complicated, risky, and expensive to completely overhaul these systems, so why do it for something that’s only slightly better, you know?

Take DApps. They are, and this is my professional opinion, really really fucking cool. I love ’em. I think the fact that you can have a social media platform running completely on autonomous software that never needs to go down for maintenance is really amazing. So why aren’t Twitter jumping ship to join the revolution?

Well, they don’t need to. Twitter (for example) has so many server farms that it doesn’t really need to go down either, and changing the back end to decentralized application software right now is just… unnecessary. If I was the Twitter CEO, I’d be open to smart contract integration, but those smart contracts would pretty much need to be game-changing mega-contracts that let me put a few extra zeros on my annual bonus for it to be worth the hassle of overhauling such a huge, widely-used platform that already works fine. That’s the issue standing in the way of adoption in my opinion.

Same as self-driving cars. They’re better, right?

They certainly seem to be. Way safer, less hassle – so why haven’t they taken the world by storm? Because people with cars already know how to drive, and they’re getting around just fine. It’s not that people aren’t interested, it’s just that the price/benefit ratio doesn’t cut it yet. Self-driving cars, like smart contracts, are going to need to really outperform the competition in a big way before people start to make the change en masse. They need to be so flawless and perfect that it would be ridiculous notto se them, and we’re just not there yet in the blockchain space.

On The Other Hand

That said, it’s only a matter of time. I think in a few decades, people are going to look back at us driving around recklessly in our gas-chugging crash-mobiles as an archaic form of lunacy, much like we look back at people having old timey duels to the death. Every time you get in a car, you’re taking a big risk, and that risk could be significantly reduced with self-driving cars.Blockchain is the same thing. Smart contracts can outperform existing systems, they’re just not ready to blow up just yet. But they’re getting there. One of the keys to adoption is regulation and state-sanctioned use, and a lot of governments are going one step further – they’re looking into adopting smart contracts for one of the use cases that they’re destined to really excel at.
Tax audits.

It’s not exactly the most appealing thing in the world to hear for everyone, but it makes a lot of sense. Blockchain can be used to effectively track spending and reduce tax fraud and money laundering, and smart contracts can totally automate the process of monitoring and paying taxes in a more trustless and reliable way that leaves less risk of deliberate tax evasion totally understandable human error.In fact, it’s not just about taxes – China are looking into using smart contracts for all government data audits, which would be absolutely huge – adoption on a groundbreaking level that would set an example for smaller countries everywhere (and when you’re dealing with China, that means like, literally all other countries). China has so many provinces and sub-regions that trying to collate data on a national level is a bureaucratic nightmare in dire need of a full overhaul, and decentralized smart contract technology is exactly what the official government auditing authority is looking into.

The Chinese government thinks blockchain will open a skylight through which a new system can be implemented, with timestamped data entered on the blockchain at municipal level to be managed and organized by smart contracts for the central office to monitor.

If a country of 1.3 billion people adopts blockchain for all government auditing data, hold on to your hats – blockchain is about to take off in the biggest way to date.

One thought on “Can Smart Contracts Ever Gain Mainstream Adoption?

  1. Thank you mate! Help spread the word! Share us on twitter, reddit, facebook, etc….If you would be so kind 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *