A fascinating conversation in the blockchain and crypto ecosystem is the possibility of having one without the other. In fact, just a couple of weeks ago, after the FTX debacle, someone told me that blockchain technology would have a better projection if it separated from cryptocurrencies.
And this may sound logical at first glance; after all, blockchain is about a ledger with hundreds of functionalities in thousands of different industries.
There are already cases of companies using blockchain for logistics processes, identity validation, and product traceability. Governments have also looked to blockchain to record and store information.
De Beers, one of the world's largest diamond mining and trading companies, implemented a blockchain to record, store and track the information of all its diamonds. Promising.
However, that discussion completely ignores one of the fundamental pieces of the blockchain. The fact that it has to be decentralized.
And what does decentralized mean? It means that the network has to be distributed among a good number of nodes and validators, where no one can control or corrupt it.
Unlike other systems that work as server-client, blockchain works with a system of interconnected nodes in which the majority must agree to the transaction before registering it. This is what allows the information to be as trustworthy and transparent as possible.
And while individual companies, such as De Beers, can implement their system of nodes and validators without requiring unconnected third parties, the same is not true for other industries.
Why? Because let's remember that the network is more secure as it has more independent nodes that validate and protect the information. In addition, the maintenance of the decentralized network has a cost in electrical energy, computational power, and a long etcetera.
A particular industry could clearly pay for this maintenance, but if we take it out of one company and into something bigger, like a global payment network, who acts as the validator? How are validation costs paid? How are transaction fees paid?
This is where the native tokens of each project come in. Let's see it with the case of Ethereum, a network that is the basis of hundreds of decentralized finance projects, games, and marketplaces.
Who would be a validator of the network without receiving rewards in return? Probably no one.
And how could Ethereum charge users for transactions on its network? It would not be easy.
Until we incorporated Ether, the native crypto of the network that allows validators to be rewarded while keeping the network safe and works as a means of payment for transaction fees.
Blockchain, as a business tool, can work without crypto. But if we extend it to the true decentralized and global sense in which there is not a single entity that is the owner of the information, it needs crypto to be able to operate and encourage use. Otherwise, we only see a database hosted on different servers controlled by someone.