The Next Great Leap For Businesses


Art Malkov is a Columbia University Blockchain Accelerator Advisor.

The blockchain revolution is upon us. What began as an experiment in finance and technology, initiated by Bitcoin, has now spawned an intricate blockchain ecosystem with countless independent networks. These networks form the infrastructure of Web3, the next generation of internet development.

Simply put, Web3 is the blockchain-based future of the web, in which essential internet services that are currently dominated by tech behemoths (Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc.) will instead be run in a decentralized manner, with finance and governance powers in the hands of the users themselves. Traditional tech companies will likely adopt aspects of blockchain technology, while new Web3 companies will rise to compete with existing businesses.

Blockchain networks, the building blocks of Web3, are continuing to grow and introduce unique innovations, but they currently lack the capacity to easily integrate with one another. Since each blockchain has its own capabilities and specialties, it is becoming increasingly clear that a mature version of Web3 will depend on integrating all chains, allowing for mutual growth and ease of accessibility for users. Let’s take a look at how the blockchain industry has evolved and what that means for businesses as a whole.

Bitcoin And The Blockchain Revolution

The launch of Bitcoin in 2009 was the first step in a blockchain technology revolution. Bitcoin was founded as a currency and store of value that functions as an alternative to national currencies. Rather than relying on any centralized entity (state, corporate or individual) to process and verify transactions, Bitcoin runs on a distributed, decentralized network of independent computers across the world. With the invention of Bitcoin, individuals could, for the first time in history, freely transfer funds without having to rely on any centralized authority.

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In March of 2022, Bitcoin surpassed 40 million addresses worldwide. What does this mean for regular businesses? Let’s explore.

The Blockchain Evolution: Ethereum And Alternatives

The next big step in blockchain development was Ethereum, which went online in 2015. Ethereum built on Bitcoin’s innovations by creating a blockchain network that supported decentralized apps (dApps) and smart contracts, expanding the principles of blockchain technology to cover a wide array of use cases. These ranged from unique digital assets known as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to decentralized finance (DeFi) to other Web3 applications, such as social networks and gaming. All current Web2 apps could now be reimagined as dApps, with no central authority to run a network or control users’ assets and data.

Ethereum also opened the door to the development of a slew of other blockchain alternatives such as Polkadot, Solana and Cardano, each of which supports its own autonomous blockchain network. There are now over 10,000 active cryptocurrencies based on blockchains, with hundreds more non-cryptocurrency blockchains.

The Next Frontier: The Multi-Chain Challenge

Each blockchain network has its own strengths, weaknesses, specialized uses and communities. For instance, Ethereum is one of the most secure blockchains due to its decentralized structure, but it’s expensive to transact with, making it better suited for valuable NFTs and high-end DeFi protocols. Solana, on the other hand, offers low transaction fees and rapid speeds, but with the downside of stability issues that have taken it offline on multiple occasions, making it more practical for gaming and experimental NFTs.

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Each blockchain network also has its own independent language and unique apparatus for validating transactions—an NFT on the Ethereum network cannot be directly transferred onto the Solana network. The current world of blockchain technology and Web3 is highly fragmented. Imagine that you had to use a unique operating system to access each major website. To take things further, imagine that each website required its customers to use the website’s own currency for any purchases or paid features. Such a system would be cumbersome, to say the least, and would have been a major obstacle to Web2’s mass adoption.

We are faced with an analogous problem in the world of blockchain technology. Until a truly interoperable, multi-chain system is developed and widely adopted, Web3 will remain a limited, experimental domain rather than playing a front-and-center role in our digital lives.

The Stack Of Interoperable Solutions

Interoperability is key to the future security, development and mass adoption of blockchain technology and Web3. Each blockchain has its own strengths, innovations and communities, so rather than adopting a winner-takes-all mentality, we should conceive of each chain as a valuable component of a larger, richer Web3 ecosystem.

Other Web3 entities are exploring more fundamental solutions to the challenge of blockchain independence. Unilayer, for instance, is a network that seeks to solve the multi-chain challenge from the ground up by tying its validator nodes (the lifeblood of a blockchain network) to those of other blockchains, allowing communication and transactions between all parties.

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Blockchain companies taking this new, integrative approach will play a key role in enabling existing Web2 companies to gain access to Web3 resources without cumbersome technical infrastructure or expensive transaction fees.

The Benefits Of Interoperability For Businesses

Large Web2 companies have already taken a serious interest in blockchain technology. Paypal now supports Bitcoin payments and cryptocurrency transfers, and Amazon and Facebook have been building out departments that focus exclusively on blockchain research and implementation. It is only a matter of time before these companies further integrate the blockchain into their business models.

Just to name a few possibilities: A sporting event company might sell tickets or collectibles as NFTs and also offer tie-ins to a blockchain-based online sports game. Social networking sites could offer digital currency rewards for organic interactions and also peer-to-peer lending and borrowing. The possibilities are endless.

However, to utilize all that Web3 has to offer, from blockchain gaming and collectible NFTs to DeFi services (lending, borrowing, saving and more), businesses will need to have easy access to all blockchain networks, as each one has its own strengths and specialties. Interoperability will be the key that unlocks Web3’s potential for both businesses and consumers.


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