The internet is going nowhere.
Even so, at the time, “the internet is going nowhere” was not an unreasonable position. Implicit in it, though, was a seriously flawed assumption: that the world would continue to work essentially as it had, where shopping required leaving your house and the internet remained a fringe tech experiment — a play place for nerds and hobbyists.
And maybe the internet’s detractors would have been right if the technologies and ecosystem behind it remained static. I remember when I got my first dial-up internet connection. It was slow and unreliable. Web browsers were clunky and hard to use. There weren’t many great websites or applications — and many people didn’t have the patience to endure long load times. The market value of high-profile dot com startups had cratered. To be fair, there was kind of a lot to be skeptical about.
But the open-source technology didn’t remain static. It evolved and matured and a vibrant ecosystem of companies across the world continued to innovate around it.
Broadband, Wi-Fi, and 3G connections scaled the performance of these networks, smartphones brought convenience and access in the palm of your hand, developers built new and more powerful apps for consumers, and the rest is history.
Blockchain powered cross-border disbursements
Helping clients understand and leverage blockchains
Efficient global settlement
Blockchains’ broadband moment
Blockchains today share some parallels with the early internet — particularly more than their fair share of skeptics, hecklers and critics. It’s hard not to hear echoes of the past’s self-certainty whenever an analyst says something like, “blockchains are too slow! Too hard to use! Too expensive!” or “they don’t have any use cases!”
Sure, blockchains have been all of those things, and some use cases are more obvious than others. But the internet was once slow, expensive, and hard to use — and today, it’s fast enough to stream live video from space, cheap enough to be free in a lot of places, and easy enough for a six-year-old to use.
At Visa, we’ve been on the forefront of payments technology for more than six decades. We saw the potential for the internet in its early days and played a major role in helping it scale and support new forms of commerce. Today, we see significant potential for blockchain networks — and many possible futures. Here are a few areas of focus today.