Blockchain after the Bitcoin boom
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Blockchain after the Bitcoin boom

Published 21/03/2019

Blockchain after the Bitcoin boom

The Bitcoin bubble peaked in January 2018 when the value of the cryptocurrency hit $830bn. 

Although Bitcoin and the other altcoins have got a lot of the headlines, increased interest and investment into blockchain uses has grown rapidly over 2018. 

“[People have] had this notion instilled in them this bubble called Bitcoin burst and everyone lost a ton of money,” writes Allan Ewart, Founder of Bluecat Media. But that’s not the end of it. “Blockchain is only just beginning and it’s going to change many things moving forward in fundamental ways that we can’t even imagine.”

Blockchain technology is anticipated to provide $3.1tr of business value on a global basis by the year 2030. So what can Blockchain actually be used for?

Blockchain – streamlining business processes

One business benefit of block chain is in the supply chain. By digitalising paperwork, simplifying record keeping and automating the logging of information, Blockchain can slash the amount of time required for admin. As well as making the movement of goods simpler and easier, the reduction in logistical holdups also means that businesses can make far better use of their assets.

The technology can also be used to provide unique identifiers for high value items (such as diamonds); to automate payments; and, in combination with IoT sensors, to void items that have been stored incorrectly. Another benefit is the potential to provide end-to-end transparency on goods, from source to consumer – something of interest with ethical and organic goods.

Another use case is in contracts – with the parties able to secure the provisions of an immutable agreement. This can be seen both at the level of equities trading and for individuals using a Blockchain to disperse the funds left in their will or to mark the transfer of assets such as property. 

Further plans see Blockchain being to authenticate digital voting; and to oversee the transfer of digital assets, whether at the level of mass media distribution or data sharing on a one-to-one basis.

Growth of blockchain use in industry

Has the crypto crash changed perspectives on Blockchain, though? “Blockchain, like all new technology, must be accessible and have undeniable utility,” noted Hayden Otto, Executive Editor of CoinSpice, talking to CoinDesk. And it seems that projects that don’t meet those measures may well be failing by the wayside. There is hope though. “I expect investments to flow into platforms that innovate and consistently deliver real-world use-cases,” wrote Bernhard Mueller of ConsenSys. That’s to say that there’s a great deal of potential for projects that can prove their value.

And while Blockchain may have seemed on the horizon – but never closer, major projects are now moving from the trial stages to full rollouts. 

IBM has embarked on a number of blockchain partnerships including those with:

• Maersk launching TradeLens, a blockchain-enabled shipping solutions platform that, in one case, was able to demonstrate a 40% cut in transit times.

• Mediaocean, a leading global media software company, to create a blockchain consortium for the digital media supply chain.

• The gold and diamond industry introducing TrustChain. 

Looking ahead, industry executives are optimistic about the technology. In a recent poll, KPMG found that 48% of tech leaders said that it was either likely or very likely that Blockchain would change the way their company did business in the next three years; while 41% said that they were likely/very likely to implement the technology in the same period.

How will the growth of blockchain increase skills demand?

Most companies aren’t going to be building their own Blockchains and are likely to use of specialist services such as TradeLens and Everledger to build Blockchain functionality into their offering to enhance its utility. Yet demand is likely to remain high for Blockchain professionals for the foreseeable future, as new applications are identified and explored. 

Knowledge of public and private key cryptography, cryptographic hashing, elliptic curve digital signatures and distributed ledger technology will be in high demand. Broad-level skills will also be crucial, whether considering Agile, Continuous Delivery, Design Thinking or DevOps. However, individuals who are able to combine these various strengths with expertise in other disciplines can expect to be particularly sought after.

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