One use case for the blockchain with cryptocurrency is in the predictions market. Speculating the outcome of an event can bring rewards if you either guessed correctly or made an accurate prediction. It is very much a form of online betting, but you are using a decentralized platform that no one can manipulate or control. There are many types of markets for prediction, including social events like elections, sports and even the next American Idol. Bets are made against anyone who counters a prediction. It can be anything as simple as whether it will rain tomorrow or not, to more complex events like electoral results.
Platforms like Augur are allowing anyone to place their bets on any type of event. Augur uses the Ethereum blockchain to implement predictions. What you need is a DApp (Decentralized Application) that runs on top of the blockchain and a valid Ethereum wallet to collect funds in the likelihood you predicted correctly. The DApp is basically a decentralized app which is installed on a mobile device e.g. smartphone. Through this DApp, a user can interact with the platform and place their bet on the blockchain using what is called a Smart Contract.
The Smart Contract is a programmable logic code that executes the conditions you set forth for your prediction. Without going too deep into it, the basic function of the Smart Contract is to honor the prediction a user places on the blockchain. It will be tamper resistant and at the same time transparent so that all can see. It enforces honesty in the betting process where countless people are involved, yet they don’t know each other at all. Sometimes cheating can occur in such settings, so the blockchain is there to enforce trust in a trustless system.
The predictions market platforms on the blockchain were meant to be decentralized. This means that in no way during the whole process are a user’s funds in the custody of the platform. It is always in their control. Decentralized means that no third party mediates between users who have placed a bet or made a prediction on the platform.
For example let’s talk about betting in sports. When using this in a prediction market, a user locks their funds or bets in a Smart Contract which the platform then prepares. Once finalized, the platform will execute code that will make it immutable. Once on the blockchain, it can no longer be changed, something that must be honored in betting systems. Oracles, or external information sources, will update the platform using an API (Application Programming Interface) that keeps the results up to date on the prediction. These sources can include online sports betting websites, news agencies and trading platforms as well. If the prediction for a winning team were correct, then the value is set to “1” which indicates that the Smart Contract will collect the winnings and it can now be deposited to the user’s wallet.
The user can also sell off their winnings in the prediction market in exchange for cryptocurrency or fiat using the Smart Contract. Since it is programmable, the user can specify to the Smart Contract what exactly it should do. The payout goes to the user’s wallet and from there they can exchange it for fiat or send it to another digital wallet. The predictions market is an ideal way to forecast events, hedge against uncertainty and even for settling bets directly without a third party involved.