Gift Cards, Mass Adoption and Current Stage of Blockchain

A Forbes article cites a report to describe the stage of blockchain today — it’s like where the internet was in the 1990s, when clicking a hyperlink or embedding one was the best of technology. In a recent interview, the co-creator of Ethereum, Vitalik Buterin, described the state of the ETH blockchain as almost full and slow. Can mass adoption be just around the corner?

A quick look at Block’tivity shows the activity levels in the top blockchains, and ETH occupies the #7 rank on the list, below BTC. The most active is EOS at nearly 50 million transactions in the last 24 hrs. Ether may be overloaded, slow and struggling to attract more developers, but it is still a fairly trustable place. In terms of speed, both ETH and BTC deliver between 7–15 transactions per second, when the market requirements are in thousands or tens of thousands per second (to bring it on par with Visa).

The comparison with internet 1.0 has been made to show the transformative power of blockchain, just as Web 2.0 changed the online world drastically and is now moving into its third version with dApps.

Some of the most obvious things to note about mass adoption are — it must be fast, simple to use, plug-and-play type technology, and spare the people any thoughts of how the underlying technology works, just like the internet or smartphones. Regulatory frameworks are however considered a primary requisite for advancements in the blockchain.

Speed and ease of use will propel the emergence of better blockchains. For instance, recently a real-world use case platform switched from Neo to EOSIO, even though the latter is not free and comes with a charge to set up an account. The transition was described as smooth and effortless thanks to the flexibility and ease of use of EOS.

Talking about mass adoption, how about using blockchain to send out the good old gift cards? The recent announcement of Japan’s gift card exchange, Amaten, that it will be moving to the blockchain with Aelf, shows that mass adoption is just a matter of time.

Blockchain will be used by Amaten to issue gift cards, and do away with the 1990s physical cards and e-vouchers. This can be called tokenizing gift cards. As per Amaten, the existing cards are slow, tedious, and difficult to issue or track, while digital codes carry security concerns. Amaten is the largest gift card exchange in Japan, where crypto is legal. The exchange allows peer to peer exchange of gift cards from major global companies like Amazon, iTunes, Netflix or Playstation, and has around 240,000 users.

The gift card industry globally is around $340 billion. Founded in 2013 as a secondary market for gift cards, Amaten itself has revenue above a hundred million and processes a million transactions a year. It is not the first to move gift cards to blockchain, however. Coinbase, the US exchange, allows the exchange of coins for e-certificates.

The Aelf blockchain that will be used by Amaten is notable for its ELF token — it was among the top ten coins selected by Huobi for its reliability as an investment. In terms of speed, the Aelf testnet has clocked 15,000 transactions per second.

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