Hardly anybody could predict the future of Blockchain development in the same manner that we once did with the future of Internet, but clearly this technology is going to have a significant impact in the world.
According to Wikipedia, Blockchain is defined as a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are secured and linked using chronological cryptography. Each block in the “chain" typically contains a cryptographic hash pointer to the previous block a timestamp and transaction data.
Its description is straightforward - a digital, decentralized, encrypted ledger that provides an ocean of integration possibilities into many fields such as financial services, healthcare, energy, supply chain management, political election and so on.
A race of Blockchain technology companies around the world
While some governments are still monitoring this technology with a doubtful eyes, major economic societies have already shown their interest in Blockchain applications.
Who is on the top of the Blockchain development game? Europe. In fact, the majority of ICOs are currenting being conducted by Eastern European Blockchain startups. In terms of Blockchain hubs, the main concentrations of startups are in London, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, and Switzerland’s Cryptovalley. Even America’s Nasdaq has reached out to the tiny country in the Baltics to develop applications.
The government seems incredibly open to the technology. The United Kingdom’s chief scientist unleashed a 88-page Blockchain report in January of 2017, outlining the potential of Blockchain and showing how it can transform the delivery of public services while boosting the government productivity. The Isle of Man government has begun to use a Blockchain registry to record. Swiss regulatory body FINMA announced its supportive position for a new licensing category for financial innovators carrying out some banking activities, but with limited acceptance of client assets.
Moving on to Asia’s giant, China. According to Skyledger, some of the bitcoin exchanges are even lending without a banking license, which indicates that the Chinese government is trying to protect innovation more than anything else. They are putting massive investments into some of the Chinese poorer regions and are planning to build Blockchain parks to entice some top minds globally to come to China and be backed with significant funding. The ICO scene is currently unregulated in China with over 2 million people participating and more and more Blockchain startups choosing token sales to raise capital.
Compare to China and Europe, the U.S originally had the largest number of Blockchain startups. However, nowaday, its Silicon Valley has been somewhat quiet, which has more to do with the legal issues related to Blockchain development than a lack of companies that can innovate. As we can see that with Coinbase and Kraken, the two cryptocurrency exchanges both reside in the Bay Area but are financial-related only. There is a real shortage of U.S based Blockchain technology companies working on project related to other industry, which creates a large chances for other countries to jump ahead.
Meanwhile, VentureBeat reported that Singapore and Switzerland are going to be the first and only jurisdictions in the world where tokens are treated not just a security but as an asset. This is not good for innovators from America who want to raise funds using these unique financial instruments or for Asians and Europeans who want to open up to U.S. backers. Some European ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings) are even IP-blocking Americans from participating due to the potential legal implications.
Otherwise, different from their neighbor, Blockchain startup community in Canada is mainly due to the fact that Ethereum emanated from the Toronto bitcoin community. There is a cluster of talent centralized in the country’s largest city, starting with Vitalik Buterin - the brain behind Ethereum. Not to mention, the most prominent authors in the Blockchain space - Blockchain technology companies and Don Tapscott - are also Canadian. Unlike the U.S. SEC, the Canadian Securities Administrators have been more than proactive by launching a new fintech “sandbox” Blockchain development program for financial technology firms.
The lack of Blockchain developers
It’s established that Blockchain is the future of the Internet. Whether it is a near future or not depends largely on its human resource. With such a novelty speed of technological evolving, being a Blockchain developer is still being considered as a subversive career path. Therefore, most universities remain focusing on web programming, machine learning or game development. This resulted in independent researchers and IT aficionados leading nearly all the innovation in Blockchain technology. Hence, the demand for skilled developers is off the charts.
According to TechCrunch, there are currently 14 open jobs exist for every Blockchain engineer, with 93% of jobs are unfilled. In 2017, the freelance marketplace Upwork saw Blockchain rising to the fastest-growing skill (35,000 percent growth rate, to be exact) out of more than 5,000 listed skills. These offers span from ICO advisory services, engineering projects to Blockchain consultancy. Currently, the job site Indeed are also listing more than 300 job description mentioning “Blockchain”. Of those, 70 are listed for tech titan IBM and 14 for the leading global auditing firm Deloitte. With firms that are solely focusing on building Blockchain development, only four of them had more than 100 employees, with the total people employed by the Top 10 Blockchain companies equals to approximately 600 people.
On one hand, this extremely low supply of qualified developers poses a crippling problem for Blockchain-based initiatives. But on the others, the situation provides a huge opportunity for driven developers to become world-class experts of Blockchain while having a substantial paycheck.
How to become a Blockchain developer
Here is a short guide for anyone who one to capture the skyrocketing demand of Blockchain developer:
Step 1: Understand the Bitcoin’s whitepaper - the pioneer of Blockchain.
In 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto published a white paper which contains the descriptive information of a decentralized digital currency’s protocol. Studying this document will help Blockchain developers understand Satoshi’s original insight along with the ins and outs of Blockchain terminologies.
Step 2: Learn the process
First-hand, real-world experiences with trading cryptocurrency is critical for Blockchain developer to understand how the platform operates,which then can be used to innovate and improve later on. Therefore, it is strongly recommended for developers to go to an exchange site of choice such as Binance, create a wallet, store in it the bare minimum amount of needed for the exchange purpose, buy a few coins and observe how the whole process unveil.
Step 3: Get coding.
What amazing about Blockchain is that almost everything one needs to know lies on the free side of the Internet: blog post, YouTube video tutorial, and various open-source software. For example, Blockgeek carries an extended and intensive course regarding Blockchain development.
Step 4: Study the Smart Contracts
Anything that runs on a Blockchain needs to have the ability to go through multiple nodes without compromising its integrity, hence create the need for Smart Contracts for Blockchain developers. As stated by Wikipedia, a Smart Contract - constructed by American cryptographer Szabo in 1996 - is generally defined as “a computer protocol intended to facilitate, verify, or enforce the negotiation or performance of a contract”.
Step 4: Get involved
It is recommended for Blockchain developers to stay in the community and join several active Blockchain forums on Reddit, StackExchange or Gitbub pages. This not only helps connecting developers with their potential partners but also keeps them on the lookout for any technology-related news.
Blockchain technology is the topic of the century. Eventually, Blockchain will increase the Internet’s security, speed up the transaction, reduce costs, and overall transforming virtually every industry.
However, in the short term, there will be a lot of teething problems: government laws being settled, companies experiencing steep learning curves while trying to grapple with the new way of doing business, and many promising projects being scrapped due to the lack of developers. Yet, the technological players have always been enjoying a good challenge. Blockchain revolution is no exception.