Blockchain: The real business impact beyond cryptocurrencies

Don't write off blockchains because it's a complicated concept. Here are some of the ways it can help different business functions.
14 May 2018 | 11 Shares

Maarten Bloemers and Tom Roetgering of GUTS Tickets use blockchain to transform the industry. Source: Facebook/gutstickets

There’s been a lot of attention—and misunderstanding—about blockchains recently. Although the first blockchain was used for Bitcoin there are many other business applications for blockchain technology besides cryptocurrency.

What is blockchain?

Blockchain is simply a computer file used to store data, but it’s not like other computer files in three very critical ways.

First, a blockchain is distributed which means the entire blockchain is duplicated across many computers. Because a blockchain is duplicated across several computers, there’s not one entity who controls the file.

Editing a file on the blockchain is only allowed when there is a consensus between the network of potentially unlimited computers that have the blockchain file.

The second way blockchains are different than other computer files is because the data that makes up the blockchain is encoded through cryptography. In order to access files, you need to possess a private key that corresponds to the correct block in the chain to prove you had the right to make changes.

Finally, blockchains are accessible to anyone on the network. Anyone on the network can monitor the file for changes and access all of the data it contains, even if they don’t have permission to change it.

Each block of data is time-stamped to record when the block was created or modified and each block is linked to other blocks forming a chain.

Satoshi Nakamoto, either an individual or group whose real identity is still not known, created the first blockchain in 2009 for the cryptocurrency Bitcoin.

Since that time, applications for viable uses of blockchain have extended beyond cryptocurrencies to record any type of transaction securely.  Here are just a few ways blockchain is revolutionizing just about every industry:

Entertainment

Blockchain is helping the company Guts fight ticket fraud in the secondary ticket marketplace.It provides transparency within the ticketing system to ensure ticket prices for concerts, sporting events and festivals are at a fair price.

Managing licensing agreements is how Spotify plans to use blockchain, the event marketing, and management platform KickCity uses blockchain to connect event organizers and attendees while rewarding them for attending events and B2Expand uses the Ethereum blockchain to create cross-gaming video games that use Nexium tokens.

Retail

Point-of-sale functionality and payment systems via blockchain are the focus of Blockpoint.

Built with blockchain and smart contract technology, Loyyal is a loyalty and rewards program platform that even allows for multi-branded rewards. And, warranties and warranty management are where Warranteer plans to make its impact with blockchain technology.

Supply chains and logistics

With its chain of command and scheduling needs, supply chains and logistics can benefit tremendously from blockchain technology and that’s precisely why IBM has a blockchain solution to help.

Consumers are also demanding transparency in knowing products they purchase are safe and were produced in a manner that adheres to their personal values. Blockchain helps provide that transparency in the food industry and companies such as Provenance, Blockverify and OriginTrail have created businesses to help give consumers the transparency they want.

Tracking diamonds and precious stones from the mine to the customer is important to confirm they were free from conflict, so De Beers and Fura Gems use blockchain to provide that chain of command info.

Government

Governments around the world are responsible for securely and efficiently handling their citizens’ private information.

The Dubai government believes so strongly in blockchain solutions, they have stated they will become the world’s first blockchain-powered state and currently have a committee investigating how to use blockchain across health records, business registration and more.

Similarly, Estonia wants to move all public records onto the blockchain and has partnered with Ericsson on the initiative and the South Korean government is working with Samsung to use blockchain for public safety and transport applications.

Healthcare

There are many applications in healthcare that make blockchain the logical solution.

In the UK, MedicalChain uses blockchain to store electronic health records, while MedRec and SimplyVital Health use the blockchain to save time, duplication and money when sharing records across providers and facilities.

Medical innovation can be slowed down due to incompatible records systems and data silos, but that’s what Nano Vision hopes to prevent by using the power of blockchain and artificial intelligence.

A partnership between Gem and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is using blockchain to monitor infectious diseases.

From finance to insurance and tourism and media, nearly every industry could use blockchain to its advantage. Whenever and wherever this is a need to record a transaction and keep the information secure, blockchain can be the answer.