Microsoft’s Yorke Rhodes: Blockchain is at the tipping point

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Technology-wise, it feels a lot like 1995, says the man who oversees blockchain work at Microsoft. Back then, the Internet held little interest for the average consumer, said Yorke Rhodes, Principal PM at Microsoft Azure Blockchain. But, within a short time, the Internet changed everything.

Rhodes said it’s deja vu all over again with blockchain.

“I really think we are there in terms of things necessary for this technology to take off,” he said, at the Ethereal Summit in Brooklyn Saturday morning. “So we’re at this tipping point, in my view at least, in 2019.”

Rhodes cited a number of consumer-facing technologies that he believes are demystifying blockchain and helping the public to adopt it—especially the recent upgrade to Opera that puts a crypto wallet in the browser and the Samsung S10, which includes a wallet on every phone.

“The onboarding experience into Web3, through the Opera browser, is actually quite painless, and that is a really important thing about how these technologies get in the hands of consumers,” said Rhodes.

Rhodes added that this is going to become a common standard for browser manufacturers and “Once you have all the browsers on board, then you’ve got consumers. Consumers drive enterprise application development, so that’s a really important tipping point on this journey.”

There are things that need to be addressed, he said. He highlighted password and key management as two issues particularly in need of attention.

Microsoft, said Rhodes, has been working with blockchain since 2015. “We’re really trying to help enterprises cross this chasm,” he said, “it’s just like people were scared of the Internet in the 1990’s.”

Microsoft’s latest initiative, a collaboration with Starbucks, was announced this week.


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