Disrupt & Innovate

We failed with the Internet, will we fail with Blockchain?

6th February 2018 by Duncan Cook

Chapter 1: The Internet 

Today I read a journal article about the charity sector reaching a ‘digital tipping point’. My immediate thought was, “It’s 2018 and we have to ask ourselves is the civil society sector only now talking about a ‘digital tipping point’”.

The introduction of the internet and its plethora of services, knowledge sharing and mass communications has changed humanity for good and for bad. 

I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say the charity sector missed the opportunity to truly use this new and exciting platform for good, yes there are some good exceptions. However, in general, we missed a big opportunity, instead, we let the commercial world dominate the direction and were left simply as consumers of those services and platforms.  

Why did we miss it?

In all honesty, we didn’t stand a chance;  

  • Our appetite for risk is low
  • We have limited funds 
  • We let others lead (i.e. we need that case study before we leap) 

Chapter 2: Blockchain 

Blockchain is in a real hype cycle, just like the internet back in 1999. And just like then, it has grown into a bubble. It will burst, however, and out of the other side, large companies will rise to take the lead, as was the case with the internet. We should be very concerned about that prospect. Blockchain has great potential. For example, there is a chance that the majority of money flows will shift to run on blockchains as cryptocurrencies. This would make it the biggest change in financial power, ever.   

Blockchain offers much more potential beyond simply currencies and assets, for example, there are big opportunities in voting operations, legal services (e.g. notary) and confirming your identity. There exist new opportunities and new hope, but the potential of this hope can only be fulfilled by good actors.  

This time we need you to be involved, not looking on from the sidelines waiting for others to lead, we need you to lead, we need you to seize the opportunity, take the risk and help shape it. If you don’t, then just like with the internet, you’ll leave a void that others will fill. 

Will we miss out on Blockchain? 

Well, the reasons we missed out on the internet are still true today;

  • Our appetite for risk is low
  • Limited funds are available
  • We let others lead and take that leap of faith

The first two reasons are solvable. If CSOs and Charities work together with partners to utilise and explore the opportunity, the risk is shared and funds are multiplied allowing us to move from simply talking and watching to taking real action. 

The big question for me is will you lead and help shape this space for good or follow and let others decide who wins and who loses? 

Duncan Cook



As Head of 3 SIDED CUBE Duncan founded the global digital agency to ‘Build Tech For Good’. A leader inspired by impact and not by numbers he has pushed for the team to create award-winning life-saving apps for clients including RNLI, IFRC and Mind. His vision to change the way people donate blood saw The American Red Cross revolutionise the donation process into a digital system that has created over $70million of revenue. Recognised for his drive to improve global disaster preparedness he was invited to The White House to present the agency’s work on the world’s largest alerting app which saves millions of lives in areas affected by tornados, earthquakes and other natural disasters every day