I hear it more and more often these days but it really irritates me when people downplay the importance and innovation behind Bitcoin by saying things like “Bitcoin won’t survive but blockchain will revolutionise our world”. But what they do not realise is that you can’t run a blockchain effectively without some incentive based reward like bitcoin. Does anyone else hear this often “bitcoin is dead and blockchain is the future”? If so, i’m interested to find out how you do or would respond to this notion.
You can absolutely run a blockchain without some incentive based reward like proof of work mining in Bitcoin. As such this statement is 100% accurate.
There are ample examples of blockchain applications where POW is not a factor or such a small factor that it doesn’t matter. In terms of coins, just look at the IOTA Tangle and Nano’s block lattice. For non crypto currency projects, look at the whole Hyperledger suite or the Bitlattice.
However, in most cases I would agree with a statement that you cannot run a cryptocurrency without some form of reward system. In Bitcoin this is mining coins, in other systems this is proof of stake, where your reward comes from the control you have on the network due to the amount of coins you hold (which may not be a physical reward but a sense of reward nonetheless).
Would there be a blockchain without Bitcoin, probably not in the shape and form we see today, and should we disregard Bitcoin because it is becoming outdated, not at all. Bitcoin is still the driving force behind the cryptocurrency market, it introduced the world to the concept of blockchain and is and will always will be its first practical implementation. Does that mean we need to hold on to the bitcoin blockchain for dear life, absolutely not. Other and better systems have emerged and they themselves will be replaced over time with even better systems, that’s simply evolution.
For me, I’d have to say Bitcoin is the blockchain. Fundamental principles about it having a single source of truth backed up by an exceptionally expensive reversal process. Properties such as censorship resistance, decentralised, extreme security, borderless, and permissionless are all what make blockchain so interesting. They also are all features of bitcoin. Other crypto blockchains have merely copied the innovation that is bitcoin and perhaps made more efficient systems, which goes to your point about evolution.
However when companies talk of their interest in only blockchain technology, they miss the point. They often look to find ways to monetise their blockchain, taking away every one of the features mentioned above turning the blockchain into a distributed inefficient and insecure database.
There is a reason they have different names. A blockchain is just a list with cryptographic keys. Bitcoin added the mining and uses the Blockchain to store information. Wikipedia has this -
A blockchain, originally block chain, is a growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked using cryptography.
It has a great definition of Bitcoin as well -
Bitcoins are sent from user to user on the peer-to-peer bitcoin network directly, without the need for intermediaries, though most transactions are made through a cryptocurrency exchange market. Transactions are verified by network nodes through cryptography and recorded in a public distributed ledger called a blockchain.
The innovation was bringing all these technologies together.
Distributed ledgers have been around for decades and like you said, the innovation was bringing certain technologies together, which is exactly my point. There is no such arguement of bitcoin vs blockchain as the hype and untold possibilities stem from the fusion of the techs. They are totally inseparable. The moment one tries to decouple the two with such statements like “bitcoin is a scam, but blockchain is the true technology of the future”, the point is missed because blockchains without some form of incentive based token is old news and uninteresting.
There are definite use cases for Block Chains that are not monetary based. Just the immutable part. Putting ones medical records on a private blockchain that only you have the key to is a good use. I know there are people out there trying to monetize it but I think that I wouldn’t want that. But hey that’s just me.