Organizations from tech companies to central banks are looking at how blockchain technologies could tackle some difficult problems. But what do developers think about distributed ledger systems?
Developer question-and-answer forum Stack Overflow surveyed 693 software developers and found that most of them think it is a critical new technology, but a little over a third also think it's just hype.
While there's some skepticism perhaps thanks to wildly fluctuating bitcoin prices, there is growing momentum behind blockchain technology for digital currencies to help consumers make day-to-day local transactions (versus saving deposits) and international transfers easier.
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Central banks in Australia, the UK, the US, Sweden, and China are considering or trialling blockchain technology to create central bank digital currencies (CBDC) for transactions on mobile devices.
Then there's the Facebook-backed Diem (formerly Libra) stablecoin project, which is looks set to be pegged to the US dollar, and cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase's massive IPO. All of this is underpinned by blockchain technology.
Stack Overflow's survey found that 38% of developers believe blockchain is "all hype", while 61% of them think it is a game changer. Yet just 24% of respondents reported actually having developed with blockchain. In other words, it's a specialized field.
But it's also one developers are keen to explore: Stack Overflow found 62% of developers reported wanting to work with blockchain. Most developers who are actually working with blockchain technology are doing it as a side project.
There are lots of blockchain variants available for developers to work with. However, Ethereum is by far the most widely used.
"While Bitcoin arrived first, Ethereum-related questions have become more prevalent since 2016," noted Stack Overflow's Ben Popper and David Gibson in a blogpost.
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Ethereum dominated the number of questions asked on Stack Overflow, totaling 1,892 compared to 1,287 for bitcoin. Unsurprisingly, questions about bitcoin correlated with price spikes.