I was recently asked what the number one problem that I believe Bitcoin will solve by the end of 2015.
Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future (as physicists say to a round of hearty guffaws at Danish cocktail parties).
Remittance to the developing world is an obvious first consideration but I suspect it’s harder than it looks and perhaps it will be “solved” continuously and incrementally. So, for me the big one is decentralised identity management. It’s big.
When you look at all the “Bitcoin 2.0” projects; the metacoins, decentralised exchanges, crypto-equities, and the menagerie of financial instruments and markets, one problem emerges at the root: identity. We already rely on many identity systems but they all involve an entrusted third party. For decentralised, zero-trust consensus networks backed by blockchains, identity must also be decentralised or it will be the weak link.
Namecoin is an early recognition of this need and a valiant attempt to tackle the problem of names but strategic weaknesses in the implementation and a lack of dedicated project support raised doubts as to whether Namecoin was a viable solution. More recently, Namecoin has seen a revival and there are several other projects such as Keyhotee that attempt to enable a strong identity management system where people can create and build a reputation that is attached to a globally unique profile that they fully control.
The necessity and potential for such a system is high across almost every significant project in the crypto space. Controlling one’s identity information is a cornerstone of privacy. Avoiding scammers and impersonators is crucial to managing counter-party risk.
What’s more, if the invention of Bitcoin enables a solution to this problem, then it will not only have solved The Byzantine General’s Problem, but also unravelled another impressive cryptographic enigma: disproving Zooko’s Triangle. That’s two dazzling cocktail party conversation topics for the price of one!