The etymology of 'blockchain-washing' can probably be tracked back to a Gartner report at the end of 2016, when the phrase was used to describe the practice of putting blockchain in front of an existing product to make it more relevant and 'modern'.
Whether it's a startup looking for an investment or a listed company on a stock exchange changing its name to include blockchain, blockchain-washing has become widespread in the technology industry, creating a hype-loop where the real use of blockchain is being confused by opportunists selling snake oil.
This usage is very similar to the early days of the internet when existing companies and products suddenly described themselves as 'online' or 'digital', immediately making them seem more interesting.
One blockchain world, however, that doesn't need to be washed, hyped or even dry-cleaned is mobile. This is a sector that has huge potential to merge the two technologies to revolutionize our favorite devices and platforms.
New York-based Mobilechain (imaginative name) is one such company bringing these two worlds together. It has been launched by StartApp, a mobile media and data company that says it has more than 1.5 billion mobile users worldwide.
Mobilechain is a blockchain platform for mobile apps that ‘facilitates the diffusion of blockchain technology down through the mobile app developer network and into the mobile user base’.
In common parlance, this means that StartApp want to accelerate the mass market adoption of blockchain technologies by distributing them through one of the biggest markets in the world: mobile.
Presently, there are many barriers for a mobile app publisher or developer to apply blockchain technologies to their applications.
Securing crypto wallets, handling public and private keys and building smart contracts require high levels of blockchain technical expertise; skills that most mobile app developers don’t have.
The Mobilechain platform removes these barriers by distributing pre-developed blockchain technologies through a system that mobile developers are already familiar with; the SDK.
This means that all blockchain integrations can be done through this channel, so any app developer, regardless of technical skill, can make use of blockchain technologies.
Gil Dudkiewicz, CEO and Co-Founder of StartApp, believes blockchain technology will be the key to transforming the mobile economy.
Once app publishers and developers implement the technology, mainstream consumers will follow, cementing blockchain as a viable mass market.
Other mobile companies are using blockchain in their business. Yovo Mobile is a UK-based company that sees blockchain as way to not only reward users for what they do on the mobile network, but also allowing them to easily spend digital money on mobile services from several sources.
Customers can pay into their mobile Yovo Pay account on more than 500 mobile networks. The company’s virtual Sim card separates a mobile number from the one on the Sim, meaning a Sim number is then a simple route to pay for mobile banking.
Yovo CEO, Richard Skaife, unsurprisingly, is upbeat about this innovation.
In the near future with eSims it will be as easy as selecting a WiFi network and instantly sending tokens to that account and off you go. Roaming costs killed.. thanks to blockchain.