Blog Posts

September, 20 2018

P2P (Peer to Peer) and Blockchain Have Come of Age

There has been blood in the water for blockchain traders since the beginning of 2018. The good news is that the time has come for builders of blockchain and other peer to peer (p2p) technology based systems.

This became evident at Consensus 2018 in May. The big boys were all there: Deloitte, Accenture, PWC, AWS, Microsoft, IBM, SAP. All looking for a piece of the action. Consensys (Ethereum) Labs announced a partnership with AWS to “launch enterprise-ready blockchain networks on AWS in minutes with Kaleido”. This topped off a year of building tools to make the blockchain easier to use for corporates and consumers. Jo Lubin bet Jimmy Song “any amount of BitCoin” that the blockchain would have a (to be agreed) number of real, usable applications within 5 years. Pretty safe bet.

In Australia, interest continues to be strong in the new ASX blockchain settlement system, despite a delayed implementation date. Westpac announced a “world-first procurement automation blockchain proof-of-concept”, built on R3 in partnership with Infosys. Westpac’s banking GM described Westpac as “a technology company with a banking licence”. The ASX and Westpac aren’t exactly early adopters. If they’re into it, it’s mainstream.

In the entertainment world, the biggest headline was probably Tron buying BitTorrent. This gives Tron over 100M users and catapults them into the largest blockchain application in the world by transaction volume (albeit mostly illegal). While Tron’s founder, Justin Sun, (a protégé of Jack Ma) has said the merger will take a while, there is plenty of speculation as to what that might look like. The consensus view in the Torrent community seems to be that Tron will reward Torrent “seeders” (uploaders of movies) with Tron and charge downloaders in Tron for the privilege, in the process creating a whole new illegal movie sharing economy. This has to pose an almost existential threat to Hollywood and other traditional content producers. Just when they were starting to get on top of illegal Torrents, Pandora’s box opens up again. Fortunately, there are some “kosher” p2p entertainment plays starting to emerge. Legal movie sharing anyone?

In the World Cup, Peer5 proved beyond any shadow of a doubt that p2p is the future of live streaming. With over 100M views and 2B minutes of 4K video, they achieved average CDN offloads of 66% and peak offloads over 90% with improvements in buffering. Like many, they used webRTC and its data channels. What will be even more interesting to see is a combination of live webRTC and more “permanent” p2p file sharing networks.

Speaking of which, Protocol Labs, after almost a year of silence, did a monster update in August showing that they have made huge progress in stealth mode and are ready to launch go-Filecoin by the end of the year. Given that Filecoin and IPFS are potentially the new, distributed file and disk sharing foundation of web 3.0, this is a huge step towards a genuinely peer to peer world. With massive technical, financial and popular support, Filecoin, and particularly its cross-domain directory protocol, IPLD, are set to form the basis of a new explosion of distributed p2p applications (dapps). Even Ethereum are using it. It has the potential to be the glue that holds the p2p future together.

The following month, in a ringing endorsement of p2p, 21st Century Fox (the bits of the Murdoch empire left after the sale of Fox Studios to Disney) tipped $100M into Caffeine, a p2p social egaming and esports streamer. They haven’t even got Disney’s $25B in the bank yet and this is the first deal they chose to do. If that doesn’t speak volumes about where p2p and social sit in the future of entertainment distribution, nothing does.

The year isn’t over yet and p2p, blockchain and crypto continue to rewrite the rule book. There’s an emerging strong Aussie flavour to it. Not surprising, given our own “disruptive” history!

Rhett Sampson
September 2018

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