In the years since internet technology first began to emerge, it has become an intrinsic part of our daily life. Today, the internet is a ubiquitous pillar of modern society, seamlessly integrated throughout our lives to the point that we rarely give the technology behind it a second thought. However, this means as we move into the third decade of the 21st century, internet technology is no longer the disruptor that it once was. The question has risen as to whether a new technology will emerge and follow in a similar path to that of the internet, with many believing that this will be blockchain technology. 

Blockchain is best known as the technology behind the growing number of cryptocurrencies making their way to market. Similar to the internet, blockchain has the ability to serve as a disruptive force across a seemingly endless list of industries. While blockchain's integral connection in the cryptocurrency industry has caused it to play an increasingly large role in the financial world as a transparent and verifiable ledger of transactional data, the technology has applications that stretch far further than financial services. In a world in which data has become a currency in and of itself, blockchain technology's decentralized platforms and their resulting resistance to fraud lends value to everything from infrastructure to healthcare to retail, and the list goes on. 

According to CB Insights' Market Sizing Tool, annual spending on blockchain solutions will reach nearly $16 billion by 2023 as more people each day realize the potential the technology holds. However, just as the internet was around for a few decades before the introduction of the World Wide Web made the technology accessible in a new and revolutionary way, so too does blockchain technology need to advance in order for it to reach its full impact potential, with the main barrier being its lack of interoperability. 

Essentially, blockchain technology as it stands right now is like the Tower of Babel: there is a language barrier that prevents blockchains from talking to each other. The current models of the technology have allowed for rapid development in the blockchain space, with a diminished ability to create better decentralized applications that function without any intermediaries or third-party involvement. The next frontier for the technology is interoperability, allowing blockchains to communicate with each other, seamlessly make transactions across chains and operate smoothly across multiple decentralized networks. Think of it this way: the internet revolutionized communication and the transfer of information, but if every person that wanted to start a website had to build their own internet, its ecosystem wouldn't be nearly as user-friendly and the adoption of it likely wouldn't have been as widespread. 

Fortunately, there are blockchain companies such as Polkadot who are working to point the developments of cryptocurrency in the right direction. Unlike other blockchain networks, Polkadot allows arbitrary information, as well as token, to be transferred across it. While it may not be the only project making progress in this domain, it is certainly the most widely accessible one and it is rapidly catching up to blockchain giants such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. Polkadot, currently one of the top-five cryptocurrency platforms, was created by Gavin Wood, a co-founder of Ethereum who saw the need for a blockchain technology company that could scale and enable the flow of assets across blockchains. These parallel blockchains are known as "parachains," and it is this advancement that has not only allowed Polkadot to make significant advancements in the cryptocurrency world, but also extend its applications to other sectors. 

The recently announced partnership between the e-commerce engagement solutions provider Project Venkman and Acala, a high-performance decentralized finance platform built as a Polkadot parachain, is the perfect example of the technology's applicability. Working with Acala as a technology partner, Project Venkman intends to utilize blockchain technology within the retail and marketing space, launching a portfolio of brand engagement solutions using on-chain loyalty points and NFTs. Helmed by Chief Executive Officer Gavin Gillas, Project Venkman has positioned itself as a pioneer in rethinking traditional loyalty points programs and driving consumer retention, by partnering with Acala they are able to harness the disruptive power of blockchain technology. 

Recognizing the potential that exists within blockchain technology, Project Venkman has focused on enterprise reward programs since its launch in mid-October. Businesses partnering with Project Venkman will have branded community crypto tokens created for them, as well as treasury management tools to design incentive programs that allow for greater transparency and tangible rewards for purchases. However, perhaps the largest differentiating factor is that Project Venkman also provides clients with the ability to create digital collectable NFTs that can be integrated into their community engagement programs. 

Acala was founded by members of two Polkadot ecosystem teams, Laminar and Polkawallet. It brings a number of decentralized financial services to the Polkadot network, including liquid staking, a decentralized exchange and an algorithmic stablecoin. Acala holds the unique position of being both an application layer by providing these financial products, as well as a parachain platform upon which other teams can build. This flexibility made Alcala the ideal partner for Project Venkman, allowing them to tailor solutions to customers' individual needs. 

Project Venkman's first client in their program will be theCHIVE, a digital entertainment brand that sees 10 million monthly active users. The online community is known for its irreverent content and merchandise partnerships with celebrities such as Bill Murray, Chris Farley, and John Daly, and has generated over $400 million in revenue to date. Project Venkman and Acala's partnership will begin with a loyalty and NFT platform build for theCHIVE, with Acala's network expected to launch in late 2021 and their integrations rolling out in the weeks thereafter. theCHIVE members will receive new digital wallets to participate in NFT offerings and earn community tokens, which can be accrued through purchases and content uploads, among other actions. These tokens can then be redeemed for merchandise credit, access to exclusive sales, events or digital rewards, gamifying the traditional retail rewards model in an entirely new way. 

Project Venkman and Acala will continue rolling out e-commerce engagement solutions to additional clients and brands over the coming months, offering a small but significant look into the ways in which blockchain technology can be utilized to disrupt industries. The partnership showcases the growing ubiquity and influence of the Polkadot network within the greater blockchain sector, where its advancements in interoperability have positioned it as a leader within the industry. 

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