Blockchain is seemingly forever on the cusp of mainstream adoption, but not for long. For those who have a broader perspective on the technology’s current capabilities and history, the idea that blockchain is anywhere close to reaching critical mass is laughable.

Despite retail investor interest in cryptocurrencies, the things that blockchain technology can do are less limited. But the world still needs a prevalent blockchain app — even a decade following its introduction alongside Bitcoin.

There’s no doubt blockchain is slow to deliver value, but its enormous potential gives enthusiasts and the cryptocurrency market justification for their hope. The crown jewel of blockchain in 2019 is its nascent application ecosystem, nurtured via a sparse array of upstart decentralized computing networks including Ethereum, NEO, and EOS.

We’re still in the dawn of decentralized applications, but it has become apparent that these dApps—and their developers—are the best bet for blockchain’s eventual ascension to the retail market.

Dev Access Unlocks Blockchain for All

Given that networks like EOS and Ethereum are ground zero for blockchain progress making it easy and inexpensive for developers to create things on these blockchains is paramount. This is a notion that’s been embraced by the blockchain community more in recent years. Major projects now focus the bulk of their efforts on making development a welcome and familiar experience, but also ensuring that any successful dApps are able to effortlessly scale with demand.

The latter issue was contentious in the community at the peak of the previous cryptocurrency bubble. At that time it became apparent the market’s legacy ecosystems were incapable of supporting demand for their dApps. Trusted blockchains such as Ethereum had reached a point where they had accommodating virtual machines and other accessible dev tools, but the market did not react optimistically when the network couldn’t handle traffic on the first favorite apps (Crypto Kitties is the most representative example).

Even if the “killer app” of blockchain was created now, networks wouldn’t be able to handle the herd of users. In the post-bull market, the community’s optimism hinges solely on blockchain’s ability to produce tangible and reliable value via applications, not on the idea that it can do so marginally or sometime in the future.

With a more mature industry this time around, the best way to help developers deliver on these ambitions is second-layer solutions being amalgamated to the most popular blockchains.

Second Layers Accommodate Developers

EOS itself was created as a response to Ethereum’s sluggish transaction speeds. and It’s now waving the banner for blockchain scaling with internal, but also external endeavors to make it the fastest chain around. With a quicker DPoS (Delegated Proof of Stake) consensus model the blockchain’s transaction speeds are faster, and a multi-threaded developer environment makes it possible to run apps on multiple computer cores. Even with these groundbreaking developments, promising second-layer upgrades to EOS are just as powerful.

An exemplary project is called LiquidApps, which slides into the EOS software stack seamlessly to provide increased memory to resource-hungry applications on the network. Knowing that EOS is limited to 90MB of RAM and is therefore sometimes expensive, with 58 EOS required for a single 1MB block.

The development platform makes it possible for EOS users to also take advantage of vRAM and therefore lower hosting costs. This simulated storage is connected to EOS and is integrated effortlessly with the underlying blockchain, making it easier to support more and better apps, wider audiences, and faster transfers of value.

Even Bitcoin rests its hopes on the second layer, with the Lightning Network a “household name” among off-chain solutions for its yet unfulfilled ability to drastically increase the speed of transactions among participating Bitcoin nodes.

By storing the bulk of a data on completed blocks of transactions off-chain, the main Bitcoin blockchain will eventually be used as a reference layer upon which nodes can quickly validate transactions without needing to store the entire chain. Ethereum may use a similar proposed model called Counterfactual, which also moves transactions off the blockchain, but for now, is anticipating a long-awaited move to Proof of Stake for the purpose of better scaling.

AWS Becomes BWS

If blockchain is the “internet of value,” then second-layer solutions are the infrastructure supporting it. dApps are the platforms perched on top of it all—used by people to finally create and transfer value. From the inside out, blockchain is evolving into a more mature system, and slowly making it easier for people with less expertise to get involved.

After high-quality development tools come reliable application support, comes interfaces for building applications, reaches retail-level creators and then finally retail-level consumers. The most significant inventions coming from blockchain right now will soon resemble Amazon Web Services.

We’re close to a “Blockchain Web Services,” which would resemble dashboards with blockchain-connected utilities that are currently being perfected, which help developers create and run applications, build and host websites, rent storage and bandwidth, and reach decentralized audiences worldwide.

These connected services may not come from a single company like Amazon, but that’s the point of blockchain—to give free, equal access from anywhere and to everyone. And each company wants the most cost-effective price charged by the most consolidated firms.

A “snowball effect” is occurring. Even on a mostly volunteer basis, blockchain is getting easier to manipulate. This ability to attract developers and infrastructure project who multiply these efforts, we get closer to the point where it’s easy to make applications that encapsulate the best of decentralized technology.

Reuben Jackson

Reuben Jackson

Ruben is a blockchain security consultant currently living in New York City. He helps organizations fundamentally redesign experiences to create new sources of value also digitally reinventing company's operations for greater efficiency.