Cryptocurrency, once strictly the domain of techies, has set ablaze internet due to the skyrocketing values of the likes of Bitcoin and Ethereum, two of the most popular virtual currencies. From social media to news broadcasts and even government legislation, it is hard to imagine a single day without cryptocurrency-related being in the news.
At the core of these crypto or digital currencies is the blockchain technology, which dates back to 2008. In general, blockchain is defined as a distributed system which records and stores transaction records. Blockchain more specifically is defined as “a shared, immutable record of peer-to-peer transactions built from linked transaction blocks and stored in a digital ledger.” Undoubtedly, it is considered as a major disruptor of the global business process.
llustration of network comparisons between blockchain, centralised and decentralised networks. (Petre, 2016b). Above is a diagram to illustrate how information is stored in distributed network compared to a centralised and decentralised network.
To date, Blockchain has the best application in cryptocurrency but here we’re highlighting 10 arenas which should brace themselves for the impending disruption and where impact of blockchain will be felt in coming years:
Since independence India has seen a massive change in the way elections have been conducted. Modern voting machines have replaced paper based ballot boxes to ease the voting process for both government and Indian voter. But, even today a limitation to elections is that they require the voter to be physically present at the polling booth to cast their vote, which can often make things awkward in terms of finding the time to travel and mode of travel– and makes little sense in our mobile, connected society.
Another bone of contention is the possibility of voter fraud. Using blockchain technology, we can make sure that those who are voting are who they say they are and are legally allowed to vote. Plus, by using blockchain technology, anyone who knows how to use a cell phone can understand the technology required for voting, allowing busy individuals to cast their vote without going to a polling station. Follow My Vote promises an ‘online voting solution for the modern age’ via blockchain technology.
Healthcare has mostly moved on from paper-based records, and there are some incredibly exciting ways blockchains can enhance healthcare operations. It won’t be a cure-all for the industry today, but it would certainly be a step in the right direction. Here are the most likely applications:
Medical Data Management: Applying blockchain technology would help improve data security by keeping patient records private from hackers, with better access for healthcare professionals and patients alike, and greater transparency for healthcare transactions.
Drug Development and Supply Chain Integrity: Blockchain would not only help in facilitating new drug development by making patient results more widely accessible but could also help reduce the counterfeit drug implications that currently cost pharmaceutical companies an estimated $200 billion in losses annually.
Claims and Billing Management: Blockchain would help minimize medicare frauds and admij costs by eliminating the need for intermediaries with automated activities and more efficient processing.
Medical Research: Currently, there is no way for a human to process all the data that is generated and recorded in diverse and disconnected systems for future treatment possibilities. Blockchain could centralize the the results of clinical trials and patient outcomes to make medical innovation quicker.
85% of the images used online are used without a valid license from the copyright owner. When people see images on the internet they, unfortunately, make assumptions that it’s okay to use without permission as long as it’s posted online. As the demand for images steadily rises, photographers lose potential earnings from the use of their material through illegal channels.
With that in mind, at the recent CES show in Las Vegas, Kodak revealed its new digital currency, KODAKCoin, which is backed by a blockchain ledger and image rights platform called KODAKOne. Kodak hopes that the new virtual currency will help protect digital image rights for photographers, allowing them to securely register their work.
Internet of Things (IoT):
Considering the predictions from Gartner, there will be more than 20 billion connected things by 2020. This is a huge number. The Internet of Things is rapidly expanding its potential to transform everyday life with connected cars, smart homes, connected wearables, smart cities, farms, and manufacturing facilities.
The biggest connection, naturally, revolves around security issues. Some manufacturers insist upon having walled ecosystems, locking out devices from other vendors, and generally making things harder for the consumer looking to use a variety of different bits of hardware.
Blockchain, and the combination of cryptographic processes behind it, offers an intriguing alternative. Because blockchain is built for decentralized control, a security scheme based on it should be more scalable than a traditional one.
In 2015, IBM and Samsung showed off an application of the blockchain known as ADEPT (Autonomous Decentralized Peer-to-Peer Telemetry), which is designed to decentralize the IoT, and allow devices to communicate directly, without a manufacturer’s hub getting in the way and trying to lock users into a particular ecosystem.
Storing data in the cloud has become an increasingly popular and convenient practice. Although storing data in the cloud still has potential problems – like downtime and losing access to your data temporarily, or more seriously, the cloud service being hacked. So, people are looking for new, secure, cost-efficient methods to store their ever-growing data libraries.
Storj is a company that’s using the blockchain for open source cloud storage. Users are connected via blockchain and peer-to-peer technology, with a distributed network to store their data on. Folks with spare storage can also rent it out for income via the Storj app, as the storage space is crowd-sourced.
An important function of government is to maintain trusted information about individuals, organizations, assets, and activities. Local, regional, and national agencies are charged with maintaining records that include, for instance, birth and death dates, information about marital status, business licensing, property transfers, financial data on tax returns and criminal activity. Much of this information still exists only in paper form, or in siloed databases, and managing and using these data can be complicated, even for advanced governments.
The use of the blockchain represents an innovative solution to encode this data in a digital ledger, keeping the info safe from being altered. In the US, Delaware-based Ubitquity has the first blockchain-based system (currently in alpha) for property record management including titles, which is in testing overseas at the Land Records Bureau in Brazil.
Financial institutions continue to face challenges with identity theft, cost efficiency of transactions, and just general security. If fully adopted, Blockchain will enable banks to process payments more quickly and more accurately while reducing transaction processing costs and the requirement for exceptions.
Some of the largest projects underway include the IBM-backed Hyperledger Fabric project, the Utility Settlement Coin, and R3’s blockchain consortium, signifying a growing acceptance in institutional policy to support blockchain growth.
Leasing a car invokes many systems across a chain of processes – including verifying the driver’s financial status, driving eligibility, available vehicle inventory and available car features. Then, leasing companies and financiers need to know what is happening with vehicles after the lease is signed.
That’s the goal of a partnership between DocuSign and Visa, which have a blockchain pilot designed to introduce greater speed and automation to Smart Contracts that promise a streamlined ‘click, sign and drive’ approach to securely leasing a vehicle.
While music lovers have hailed digitisation as the democracy of the music industry, the 15.7 billion global music industry has paradoxically remained the same. Music piracy through illegally downloaded, copied and shared content eats into the artist’s royalties and music labels revenue.
So, the entertainment industry is looking to blockchain technology to secure digital rights for music and other media, with the potential to recapture that income. The British company JAAK has grabbed attention with its effort to create Smart Content with a “global view of content ownership and rights”.
The current system for sharing official records is slow, complicated, expensive, and broken for everyone in a myriad of ways. That’s why when companies hire an individual for a job it becomes difficult for them to discern the truth behind the average resume or CV, as more than half of folks reportedly lie on their job applications.
This problem also arises at universities that need to verify the credentials of their faculty, and at hospitals that face a similar challenge when it comes to staff physicians and other healthcare professionals.
With the help of blockchain technology, it’s possible for you to find the right people for your business by verifying their credentials. If you want to make sure someone really does have the right stuff for your company, the blockchain can help.
New York-based Learning Machine is among those pushing the use of the technology in credentialing. The technology company is applying blockchain technology to verify worker and professional credentials and keep in a secure digital ledger, which cannot be altered down the road to fit another position the applicant is subsequently interested in. The firm promises inherent fraud protection which could make choosing the right person for a job a good deal easier.