Blockchain Still Isn’t Attracting Companies, Developers

Remember when the blockchain was going to change the world?

It seems like all of that excitement might have been… premature, to put it mildly. According to Stack Overflow’s latest Developer Survey, 80 percent of organizations aren’t using blockchain technology at all; of the remaining, some 12.7 percent are using “non-currency” applications of blockchain. A mere 4 percent are implementing cryptocurrency-based products, and 1.3 percent are implementing their own cryptocurrency.

Some 2.1 percent of organizations are accepting Bitcoin or other “crypto coins” as payments, hinting that cryptocurrency isn’t gaining traction as specie among corporate types. Maybe they’re worried that the price of Bitcoin will crater right after they accept some of it in exchange for services.

Meanwhile, developers themselves seem divided about the use of blockchain, with almost a third (29.2 percent) saying the technology could prove useful across many domains; nearly as many (26.2 percent) think it could be utilized as an “immutable record-keeping outside of currency” (in Stack Overflow’s words). Around 16.8 percent think that blockchain is a passing fad, almost as many who think it’s an irresponsible use of resources (15.6 percent).

A relatively low number (12.2 percent) of developers believe that blockchain is useful for decentralized currency. “This optimism is largely concentrated among young, less experienced developers,” Stack Overflow concluded. “The more experienced a respondent is, the more likely they are to say blockchain technology is an irresponsible use of resources.”

Stack Overflow’s survey reinforces that, for many tech pros, blockchain is indeed losing its luster. Earlier this year, HackerRank’s 2019 Skills Report (which queried 71,000 respondents) revealed that 20 percent of tech pros thought that blockchain was “overhyped,” and 7 percent thought it was “unrealistic.” Some 22 percent thought that blockchain might not work out in terms of broader adoption.

Among those surveyed by HackerRank, blockchain was considered an overhyped technology by the highest percentage, in contrast to technologies such as deep learning that were considered much more “realistic” in terms of mainstream adoption.

A year ago, an analysis of financial and Dice job-posting data uncovered that blockchain-related jobs roughly fluctuated with the price of Bitcoin. For example, in late 2017, the price of Bitcoin underwent a massive spike, shooting from roughly $2,500 per coin in June to $19,000 by the beginning of December. During that same period, both the demand and supply for blockchain-related jobs on Dice also leapt up.

That correlation between job postings and Bitcoin price hinted that a lot of companies were attracted to the hype over cryptocurrency, and wanted to explore whether the underlying technology could do anything for them. At the same time, the hype over Bitcoin no doubt attracted tech pros.

Ever since that insane hype over Bitcoin deflated, it seems that corporate interest in blockchain has cooled (job postings have certainly decreased). That’s not to discount the benefits of the technology, which are potentially numerous—smart contracts, for instance, could change everything from shipping to negotiating over intellectual property. But it doesn’t seem that companies (and developers) are quite as interested in seeing what blockchain can do for them.