Blockchain: The real business impact beyond cryptocurrencies
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 whole thing is duplicated across many computers. Because it’s duplicated across several computers, there’s not one entity who controls the file.
Editing a file on the chain 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 to other computer files is that the data that makes up the chain 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 the technology is revolutionizing just about every industry:
By providing transparency in the ticking system, it is helping the company Guts fight ticket fraud in the secondary ticket marketplace. Transparency ensures 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 Ethereum to create cross-gaming video games that use Nexium tokens.
Point-of-sale functionality and payment systems 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 using the technology.
Supply chains and logistics
With its chain of command and scheduling needs, supply chains and logistics can benefit tremendously from the technology – which is 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 chain technology to provide that chain of command information.
Governments around the world are responsible for securely and efficiently handling their citizens’ private information.
The Dubai government believes so strongly in blockchain solutions, it has stated it will become the world’s first state powered by the technology. It currently has 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 it for public safety and transport applications.
There are many applications in healthcare that make blockchain the logical solution.
In the UK, MedicalChain uses it to store electronic health records, while MedRec and SimplyVital Health use it 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 the technology 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.
2 December 2022
1 December 2022