From Bitcoin to NFTs, cryptocurrency has exploded in recent years. Its ever-growing presence in the market and our lives shows no sign of slowing down. And it’s time for savvy business leaders to pay attention. New research shows that 25% of the fastest growing companies in 2021 are crypto-related. Unprecedented numbers of executives, engineers, and investors are leaving big tech for emerging crypto start-ups.

What’s making it all possible? Blockchain. Everything runs on this new, decentralized ledger. It boasts increased transparency and instant payments without the need for centralized third parties—but for businesses, what does that really mean? And what other specific cryptography features can you leverage to supercharge your company?

Defining Blockchain and Crypto

First, it’s important to know what crypto and blockchain really mean in order to understand how they can work for you.

With Greek roots kryptos, meaning “hidden,” and graphein, meaning “to write,” the word cryptography has a rather literal definition: the art of writing or solving codes. In terms of technology, cryptography refers to exchanging messages that can only be read by the intended parties. The technique encrypts (hides) a message using a specific key and algorithm. The encryption key is what makes any message, transaction, or bit of data readable only by intended recipients. It ensures the security of all transactions and participants, and preserves independence from a central authority.

Cryptography is the core concept and backbone for blockchain, which is a decentralized database shared among various nodes of a computer network. It’s a constantly-updating, public, digital ledger. Data is collected in “blocks,” or groups that are strung together and linked to the previously filled block—hence, forming the chain of data called “blockchain.” This linked structure creates a clear record of data that includes a timestamp, date, value, and involved participants. New blocks can be added, but old ones can’t be edited. Which means the blockchain is immutable, making all transactions permanently recorded and visible.

Blockchain is distributed and radically transparent, but secure structure is what enables the technology to transcend our traditional experience of a centralized web. And what will alter the methods of work as you know it.

What is Web3?

To understand Web 3.0 (or Web3 for short) it helps to know its predecessor, Web2. And if you own a smartphone, have logged on to social media, or ever used a mobile app to order delivery, then you’re already familiar with it. Web2 refers to the current version of the internet as we all know it. Web3 refers to the next iteration, and that evolution is upon us.

At the start of the 21st century, Web2 ushered in a new era: the internet became participatory and user-driven. For the first time, users could not only view content online, but actually edit and share their own content. With the development of social media platforms and mobile apps, an unprecedented amount of sharing and connectivity exploded across the globe.

Though Web2 brought with it a number of innovations, it remained grounded in centralization. A handful of powerful Web2-centric platforms dominate the industry, and they not only own, but sell, most users’ personal data. With the arrival of Web3, we’re poised to break those monopolies and return power to the users. Web3’s online ecosystem is decentralized and based on the blockchain. Which means that Web3 platforms and apps won’t belong to a central authority—they’ll be owned by their users.

Fight Fraud with Blockchain Technology

According to a study by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, the average company can lose around 5% of revenue to fraud every year. Fraud can be as difficult to detect and time-consuming to uncover as it is costly.  Enter blockchain technology. Fraudsters often alter and delete information or create fake documents to conceal their activities. Because blockchain operates on a decentralized peer-to-peer network, members of that network can more easily view the history of all transactions—making it easier to identify fraudulent ones.

And because blocks can’t be deleted or changed, the original record will always be available. You have the ability to trace the history of a given transaction. Which means you’ll always be able to separate what’s real from what’s not.

Take Back Ownership of Your Data

Humans produce an estimated 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every single day. Thanks to the rapid development of the Internet of Things (IoT), increasing web access, and social media growth, that number is projected to expand to 463 exabytes by 2025. But as it stands now, very little of that data actually belongs to the users generating it. Instead, big tech and traditional banks currently use your data to monetize their own services.

That’s because the centralized structure of the current web services forces users to rely on larger institutions to store digital information. While they say that your information is secure and used only to improve their platforms, these traditional intermediaries also sell your data for their own purposes and revenue streams—often without your consent. Not only does that make data ownership a critical privacy issue, but a financial one.

The blockchain’s decentralized structure removes these intermediaries. Data gets replicated across multiple nodes, so no single authority can assume control over your data. Using blockchain enabled platforms puts you back in control: you choose which applications can access which parts of your company’s data. True ownership over your own data provides more than increased privacy and security—it also opens new opportunities for you to generate revenue. With blockchain and the arrival of Web3, your data works for you.

Streamline Workflows with Cutting-Edge Automation

Smart contracts deployed on the blockchain can also automate business processes. Because smart contracts are a kind of software protocol, all of the terms are entered into the blockchain as code. Which means once the agreed-to conditions are met, the smart contract self-executes and automatically pays out any funds or other items as written in the contract. And because blockchain and crypto technologies are borderless, you can take your processes global at a fraction of the cost. No more waiting. No more hidden fees.

With smart contracts, you can put an end to the slow tedium of administrative logistics. Tasks that were once done manually can be automated and tracked. Easily keep records of all business transactions and payments, track workflows every step of the way, maintain and verify compliance—the blockchain can handle it all. Which means you can invest your time and energy in growing your business, not just continuing it.

Unlock Unlimited Potential with Digital Wallets

Your key to the wide world of blockchain technology is a digital crypto wallet. Because your crypto earnings are technically stored on the blockchain, a digital wallet holds your private keys that grant access to your crypto. Those keys also prove ownership and identity—they’re unique to you. Which means your digital wallet also acts as a signifier for your online identity. (And means you don’t have to give up personal data every time you use an app.) So unlike a physical wallet, a digital wallet is a lot more than just a container for cash. With it you can sign and approve documents and transactions, receive direct crypto payments from anywhere in the world, and even store your own NFTs.

A digital wallet opens up opportunities for you to explore the decentralized finance (DeFi) ecosystem. With that comes new methods of generating revenue—with investments in cryptocurrencies like a stablecoin, you can watch your savings grow with average yields 40x-200x higher than what traditional banks offer. Yes, really.

Build Your Business on Rise

At Rise, we know the future of work has arrived with the proliferation of blockchain and Web3. As crypto technologies continue to develop, they have the potential to revolutionize various industries across all sectors. With more and more companies finding ways to integrate blockchain technology or cryptocurrencies into their business models, don’t get left behind. Smart business leaders know: embracing innovation is key to keeping your competitive edge.

That’s why Rise is dedicated to helping you make your decentralized team stronger than ever. Our Web3-enabled platform lets you manage independent contractors, smart contracts, instant payments, and compliance all in one place. From anywhere around the globe. We’re putting you back in command, so you can take ownership of your career and cultivate it as you see fit.

The world of cryptocurrency is no longer a niche pocket of the digital sphere—it’s a fast-growing ecosystem with far-ranging impact. And it’s transforming our experience of work as we know it. Utilizing blockchain technology to streamline your business processes and maximize efficiency isn’t just about staying up-to-date. It’s about staying ahead of the curve.

Ready to build your business with blockchain? Get started on Rise today.

Missed the first blog in this series? Continue to Blockchain 101, Part 1 | Understanding Crypto