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How Blockchain and Crypto Startups Are Battling to Protect Individuals’ Data

Emerging markets are ripe with promises.

Since the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto published the Bitcoin whitepaper over 10 years ago, blockchain has existed in a realm of magical realism. Associated closest with Bitcoin, and confined to a fantasy as intangible as the technology itself, blockchain’s value was tied to speculation and libertarian ideological canon.

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But blockchain is bigger than Bitcoin: The technology lays a new digital infrastructure for the global economy rooted in decentralization and security. Although blockchain has been tied to theoretical models and promises, the industry is fast hurling toward the adoption, which will turn these visions into reality. Billions of dollars in institutional capital are entering cryptocurrency markets, while corporations are taking the lead in implementing blockchain to protect highly sensitive data.

To get to adoption, and go from theory to execution, use cases are crucial. Within Silicon Valley, a frenzy is underway among blockchain startups to deploy effective use cases demonstrating blockchain technology in action. This competition is healthy and is establishing fundamental rights around an individual’s data in the process.

The most famous blockchain use cases involve individuals in developing countries who escape poverty through Bitcoin—Latin American migrants contending with hyperinflation via stablecoins, storing cryptocurrencies on smartphones transported across borders. These stories are the most important: They underscore how blockchain can secure basic human rights that are too often jeopardized by autocratic regimes.

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But just as structural change is necessary at the base level, it also must occur via a top-down approach. In the developed world, high-profile figures play a crucial role in earning the public’s support for blockchain solutions, demonstrating how this technology will ensure rights within the digital worlds we inhabit. Their participation in use cases, as our company Beyond Protocol has done with athletes like Rob Gronkowski, is more than just a promotion of a service: It is an endorsement of a worldview predicated on decentralization and security, ideologically opposed to corporate entities profiting from an individual’s data.

Just as blockchain helps individuals in developing economies realize rights taken for granted in the United States and Europe, it is likewise establishing new baseline dignities in the developed world. According to a 2019 survey commissioned by EY, formerly known as Ernst & Young, “preservation of data was the number one driver and most common use case for blockchain adoption.” The fact that so many startups are competing to create use cases around protecting an individual’s data is a positive sign.

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The general public needs real-world examples by figures they trust, in live and demanding conditions, that blockchain startups have taken every precaution to protect user data. By rising to the occasion, tech executives can correct the mistakes of their predecessors and ensure new rights for the next generation.

Jonathan Manzi is an entrepreneur and the CEO of Beyond Protocol, a Silicon Valley-based distributed ledger technology venture he co-founded with entrepreneur Denis Benic and technologist Gurvinder Ahluwalia, who previously served as CTO of IBM Blockchain. Beyond Protocol’s token $BP trades on several cryptocurrency exchanges.

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