Blockchain uses beyond cryptocurrency
Blockchain technology is the driving force that makes cryptocurrency work and industries outside of the digital currency community are starting to take notice and implement it for their own use.
The technology can be described as an open, distributed ledger that records transactions permanently between two parties in an efficient and verified matter. The ledger can also be programmed to make transactions on its own. Another way to look at it is to imagine a spreadsheet that is duplicated a thousand times across a network of various computers. Then envision that this network is fashioned to update the spreadsheet on a regular basis.
Don & Alex Tapscott, authors of “Blockchain Revolution” say that “The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.” And industries are taking note of that making use of the technology in their respective industries. Some of the practices which could help industries include:
- protection of data from would-be predators
- streamlining of internal operations
- reduction of overhead costs as a result of mistakes arising from human errors
- unnecessary delays resulting from outdated ways of doing things
- increased transparency
- ease of auditing and accountability
For a considerably long period, the world has only linked blockchain to cryptocurrency. This fact is obviously changing as industries across the board are yearning for its inception. They are slowly engaging in pioneer projects that will and should soon see them join the bandwagon. The industries below are only a tip of the iceberg.
Blockchain uses in other industries
A government relies on internal funding and external borrowing as its major sources of finance. Internally it’s through taxation of its citizens thus their key interest in ensuring that every dime is appropriately channeled to projects of value that can guarantee and sustain economic growth. Governments time and again have found it a menace to curb corruption, this, however, can be a thing of the past if blockchain technology is given a chance.
This technology has Ethereum-based smart contracts which aid in automating different processes which result in full transparency and accessibility. It also bases this on its reliance on distributed database technology which cannot be easily manipulated to please an individual’s mischievous behaviors.
The technology also comes with an application known as the Boardroom which permits organizational decisions to happen on a blockchain which allows for transparency and verifiability when dealing with equity, information, and assets.
It is worth noting that the network utilizes the daisy chained blocks for data to record and verify every single transaction that has taken place. Every block has a hash which is a digital fingerprint and a time-stamped batch of blockchain transactions which have recently taken place. These blocks are interlinked to guard against any external attack or manipulation and aids in the verification process of transactions.
Notably, every block that is written on blockchain ledger contains a unique key attached to it. Blockchain technology could aid the government to keep track of how it spends tax dollars.
Financial institutions have for a long time participated in ensuring economic growth of the world through financing and other realistic objectives such as safe custodian of customer’s valuable assets. These objectives should be carried out with utmost care and in good faith without any breach of contractual agreements. This has however been faced with a myriad of challenges with the most recent being cyber-crime which exposes customers identities and breaches payment processing.
There is, however, an array of hope to this industry through blockchain management.
File storage is a primary benefit for banks in using blockchain technology. Decentralization of file storage on the internet turns around everything in banking and finance as it protects hacking of files and their undesired loss. InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) eases conceptualization on how a distributed web might operate as it gets rid of the need for a centralized client to server relationship.
Blockchain management involves a digitized or electronic ledger which contains a full history of a financial institution’s transactions with several blocks that contain in them an individual’s bank statement. This will ensure the safety of customer’s identities since the blocks can’t be manipulated are immutable.
Blockchain will also make payment processing much easier and safer. It allows for back office settlement systems to process, transfer, trade and to perform any other transactions in a nick of time and dramatically reduces delays posed by traditional ways of records reconciliation.
Beyond that, blockchain has played a significant role in cross-border payments. Remittance companies like Align Commerce, Bitspark, and Abra, provide end-to-end payment services powered by blockchain. Santander was among the first banks to merge blockchain to a payments app, and this has been a relief to customers who are now able to make international payments within 24 hours, whilst clearing the following day.
How then can we find a global connection between patients, medical practitioners, and other service providers? This is a million-dollar question with a simple answer: Blockchain management.
Data of patients need to be consistent and since data in blockchain is immutable, it guarantees consistency. Due to its decentralized nature and public accessibility, it poses unrestricted access to information. Some companies are already taking full advantage of blockchain technology to provide a leveled playground for the international audience and also reorganize the healthcare industry in general.
A good example of this unique development is the services offered by TrustedHealth. The platform generally offers a direct connection between medical practitioners, patients and other service providers in the health sector.
On the other hand, Trustedoctor.com, which is an already existing platform, connects patients directly with medical consultants globally without the extra cost of traveling. This, therefore, completely removes the geographical barriers that initially existed and sidelined some people from first-class medical services.
Another blockchain startup, Shivom, wants to use the technology to store genome data on the platform. Shivom is offering an open marketplace for healthcare providers to join. Individuals that join the platform will not only be able to securely store their genomic data on a blockchain but also have the choice to use that data to contribute to important scientific endeavors.
Different products, different suppliers, different consumers, different geographical locations, all of these are factors that create a difficult scenario when dealing with food supply chain. Transparency is key to this industry and it’s one of the ways that would make it easy for a supplier to keep track of food he has supplied in the market. But how can he make this a reality? Blockchain-based time stamping of a location and date that resembles a product number is a sure bet on this.
Blockchains results in collaborative organizations that eliminate middlemen. This disruptive technology thus promises to bring significant efficiencies to global supply chains even in the growing and distribution of food. Smart contracts management has characterized this industry and a supplier could sell produce directly to a restaurant or an individual without middlemen.
Blockchain technology can also aid markets as it relates to counterfeit food. In 2017, the Inspector General in the U.S realized that millions of pounds of counterfeit organic produce were entering the American supermarkets yearly. This is not only a problem for consumers but for farmers as well who produce real organic produce, as the prices for the counterfeit products will be significantly lowered.
As a result, there has been an increasing demand for systems that can actually authenticate a product’s supply chain. And blockchain has topped the list as the best choice for this application. Farms can now use blockchain to add authentic organic products to the ledger. Then, customers can use a mobile app to confirm the background of every produce in the store in real time.
From a supervisory perspective, this has really made it easy for the USDA and FDA. If a contamination of the food supply is noticed, then, it becomes easier to track its origin and recall the associated produce. Consequently, regulators will be able to quickly isolate foodborne illnesses.
Affiliate markets are a way for a company to sell products by signing individuals, or companies, who then market the products for a commission. This is an agreement that requires a lot of trust and transparency for a business to maintain its public image. This means that getting rid of scams and ensuring safety is of utmost concern.
Blockchain technology keeps records of transactions and shows every record to all the parties involved.
With blockchain technology, it’s possible to track every conversation on a ledger involving all the three parties and since they can all access it, they can openly check and approve of the legitimacy of those transactions. Under blockchain, there are smart contracts which are self-executing contractual chains safely stored on the blockchain. They are tasked with ensuring secure payment methods.
A company already using blockchain to aid it is Hoqu. The company is a decentralized marketing platform that wants to ensure fair deals. It has developed an ecosystem that will eliminate fraud in affiliate marketing.
Time is of the essence to people and by reducing advertisement load and strictly adhering to delivering fewer, more timely and relevant ads, advertisers help save their consumers time. Blockchain helps to navigate the walls of the existing different service providers and link them together, hence ensuring that the right people are targeted with the right ads.
Beyond that, blockchain technology could help advertisers avoid the risk of fraud. The rise of hackers creating fake web traffic, which involves fake bots visiting sites rather than human visitors, comes at a loss of revenue. The consultancy Juniper Research released a report that in 2018 ad fraud could cost advertisers $19 billion, or nine percent of their total digital advertising money.
Blockchain technology an aid in this effort through the use of smart contracts. A company, adChain, has developed a blockchain-enabled registry that will flag fraudulent of low-quality sites.
Blockchain technology innovations have made it possible for online digital currencies to take shape and real estate has not been left behind as it is slowly but steadily start to take this payment mode more seriously. Four years ago, in fact, a 1.4 acre home was for 2,739 bitcoins or around $1.6 million at the time. Buying real estate entails using large amounts of money to be transferred between parties with always raises the risk of corruption.
SMARTRealty wants to help in that regard. The company employs blockchain technology via two platforms, one for contracts and the second one for listings. One a buyer and seller come an agreed upon price, SMARTRealty provides a smart contract template for the parties to change how they see fit. The contract will already provide the necessary details regarding the local laws and regulations.
The platform will also have its own token, RLTY, which will help facilitate payments and records on the blockchain. By using the companies native token, it will allow all parties involved the opportunity to do the transaction using any currency of their choosing, including cryptocurrency.
With the rise of fake news circulating the internet, is there a way to use blockchain technology to stop this, and better yet, improve journalism? One company thinks that’s a possibility by arguing that the news should be run by the people. Civil, a start-up company, wants to create a new type of site that it hopes will be an open marketplace for journalists.
The start-up believes that blockchain technology, along with cryptocurrency, can create a sustainable place for journalism, including local, policy and investigative journalism that has been disappearing. Civil believes decentralization is the key to a free and independent press. Its plan is to build a site that’s a combination of a publishing platform — not unlike Medium — and a crowdfunding system like Patreon or any other crowdfunding platform.
Civil is still in start-up phase so how it affects journalism is still to be determined.
Blockchain technology can in content distribution as it relates to promoting content online audiences in multiple media formats by utilizing various channels. It helps solve the puzzle on digital rights management. Content creators have for a long time lacked the ability to produce, protect, monetize and manage their creations.
It helps create a direct network between content creators and consumers thus enabling direct interactions between the two parties. This effectively does away with intermediaries which bring about an increase in content consumption. It also brings in the ability to tag, content with specific metadata thus improving discoverability and shareability of the price of content in question.
One company that wants to help content creators in that regard is Po.et. The company wants to the standard of the world’s creative assets by integrating a marketplace for anything involved with content. Once content is created, it can be used in WordPress, or other content management systems, as well as music creation tools. When that’s done, with a click of a button the content will be documented in the Po.et platform, which would add a timestamp which allows for attribution of all the assets.
If there’s one industry that could use blockchain technology it is online gambling. The industry is expected to surpass $50 billion this year alone and now accounts for up to 25 percent of all gambling. The problem lies in the security associated with online gambling. A reported 1.4 million fake online sites are created on a monthly basis which means any online gambling site can be susceptible to being copied.
Additionally, assurance of gamblers regarding protection for their money and fair generation of odds and the fair outcome of their bet needs to be secured. Blockchain technology assures this as all parties involved will benefit from its permanent records of verifiable and unchangeable transaction ledger.
One company trying their hands at using the technology with online gambling is JoyToken. The company has created their own token which they posit enables developers to pay and be paid for their online gambling games. The company argues that “JoyToken will benefit from blockchain technology and thus transparency.
This last point is the most exciting as this has not been done before and will open up a new market of potential players, who want trust, anonymity, and total transparency; all of which are delivered through blockchain technology.”
Blockchain technology in the long run
The technology that makes cryptocurrency possible is starting to branch out into other industries as demonstrated above. What long-term effects the technology does in fact have is still to be determined. But one thing is certain, industries outside of cryptocurrency have taken notice of the positives that blockchain technology could do for them and they want in.