Blockchain technology hasn’t yet unalterably changed the world in the way many of its proponents predicted. But then, Rome wasn’t built in a day. What we can confidently say is that highly sophisticated blockchain solutions are increasingly being developed and deployed, not just in finance but in fields such as media, real estate, healthcare, insurance, and government.

All over the world, intrepid inventors and cunning developers are creating novel new use-cases for blockchain and laying the foundations that will support the next stage in its technological evolution. If the early years of Bitcoin/blockchain were dominated by cryptocurrency exchanges and digital wallets, the next phase is likely to encompass blockchain-powered social networks, user-centric NFT marketplaces, hyperconnected virtual worlds – and implementations we have yet to even consider.

Dawn of Decentralized API Management

Bware Labs is one forward-looking company that views blockchain as more than just a buzzword. The startup has pioneered a multi-chain decentralized API solution that acts as an interface between blockchain API consumers and node providers, with integrated payment options and verified reliability embedded within its protocol. Established to accelerate the growth of decentralized finance (defi) by democratizing access to blockchain nodes, Bware ensures developers have the tools they need to make an impact on one or multiple networks.

Backed by several reputable VC funds (The Spartan Group, Genesis Block Ventures, Moonrock Capital), Bware provides users with access to endpoints via WebSockets and RPC, and supports the payment of subscription plans via browser wallet MetaMask. Ethereum, Avalanche, and Binance Smart Chain are the first platforms set to deploy Bware’s infrastructure though Elrond, Polkadot, and Polygon (formerly Matic) aren’t too far behind.

Decentralized API management is a hitherto unexplored use-case for blockchain, but if Bware gets its way, it’ll prove to be particularly lucrative.

A Smart Exchange That Leverages AI

Unizen, meanwhile, is a Smart Exchange Ecosystem that “provides global traders and retail investors with access to exciting blockchain projects through the combined functionality of a secure CEX, DEX, AI-driven social sentiment indicators and Binance-level liquidity.”

Unizen perfectly illustrates the continuous evolution of cryptocurrency exchanges, which in the past were largely judged on the depth of their liquidity. Now, with more everyday and pro investors flocking to the digital asset industry, the emphasis is on user experience, self-custody, speedy listing/execution times, regulatory compliance, security, and competitive trading fees.

Unizen describes its platform as a “modular CeDeFi solution” due to the way it combines elements of both centralized and decentralized finance. By tapping into Smart Social Sentiment Indicators to quantify user sentiment around digital assets, Unizen also helps traders make more informed decisions at the appropriate time. The platform is powered by Binance Cloud.

Simplifying the NFT Landscape

NFTs are probably the most headline-grabbing blockchain implementation of recent times. This past March, an NFT of a single piece of art sold at auction for $69 million, elevating the artist known as Beeple into a hallowed realm. Early Beeple collector Pablo Rodriguez-Fraile, co-founder of the Museum of Crypto Art, believes non-fungible tokens will come to be regarded simply as the way art is bought and sold.

Helped in no small part by Beeple, NFT sales surpassed $2 billion in the first quarter of the year – more than 20 times the volume of the previous quarter. While art and collectibles are currently overrepresented, slowly but surely more NFTs are coming to market: tokenized real estate, NFT albums and audiovisual works, movie merchandise, concert tickets.

Enjin is at the center of the NFT movement. Founded in 2009 and initially conceived as a social gaming community, Enjin pivoted towards blockchain in 2017 and has never looked back. As far as NFTs are concerned, the platform allows users (including coding amateurs) to create, mint, manage and sell them peer-to-peer via its eponymous marketplace. To date, Enjin has facilitated over 800,000 sales among 42,000 traders.

Lest one cynically think it is jumping on the NFT bandwagon, Enjin’s co-founder and CTO Witek Radomski authored the code for one of the first ever non-fungible tokens way back in 2017. He also wrote the ERC-1155 Ethereum token standard that enables developers to deploy NFTs in a single smart contract.

The cool thing about Enjin is it makes NFTs accessible to everyone. Got a great idea for an NFT? Use the platform’s simple interface to create one, then generate a QR code that can be placed on your social media profile or website. This code can then be scanned with the Enjin Wallet to facilitate a sale. All NFTs are minted with Enjin’s native ENJ coin, and can be retrospectively melted back to ENJ.

Pitched at both individuals and businesses, the latter of which can save time and money by integrating high-functioning NFTs into their apps, sites and games, Enjin is a complete end-to-end NFT ecosystem. It even has its own dedicated decentralized blockchain network (Efinity) built exclusively for NFTs.

When Blockchain Meets Big Data

Data infrastructure is long overdue an overhaul, and Constellation Network is convinced it has a solution. An open-source platform that enables seamless and secure communication between big data infrastructure, the startup seeks to eliminate the financial and organizational cost of insecure data pipelines and bad data.

Constellation Network is based on the Hypergraph Transfer Protocol (HGTP), a Layer-0 distributed ledger architecture that facilitates instant, fee-less transactions while guaranteeing security via a novel Proof of Reputable Observation consensus algorithm. The only blockchain project designed exclusively for Big Data, Constellation is pitched at enterprises, government, and indeed any client for whom data integrity and assurance are top priorities.

Earlier this year, the Network worked with Ford and GM to develop a common standard of communication for the autonomous vehicles of the future. Specifically, Constellation offers a neutral and scalable standard for self-driving cars that preserves user privacy while also compiling crucial data related to the technology’s safety.

The Future of eSports Tournaments

eSports might not seem as consequential an area as Big Data, but it’s just as ripe for change. Step forward Community Gaming, a platform built for tournament organizers and gamers.

In addition to hosting hundreds of online gaming tournaments, the venture has built a blockchain-powered payment system that ensures players get paid instantly and transparently when events conclude. In the past gamers would have to endure long wait times to receive payouts, but Community Gaming automates the process, ensuring players keep coming back for more. Although payouts are currently made in crypto, the platform intends to integrate a solution that facilitates the conversion of digital to fiat at the touch of a button.

Community Gaming incentivizes participation not just from gamers but also tournament organizers. Anyone can set up a tournament and earn a percentage of the prize pool for doing so. Organizers are responsible for promoting, running and sometimes streaming events, and setting up a tournament requires no specialist crypto knowledge whatsoever.

To be sure, the aforementioned examples provide just a snapshot of the innovation occurring among blockchain-based startups. No wonder Gartner expects blockchains to generate an annual business value of more than $3 trillion by 2030.