Blockchain basics:use cases beyond cryptocurrencies
In the previous article, I covered what blockchain technology is and how it works. To read that article, please click here.
While blockchains are still considered relatively new technology, they are already being trialled and implemented by organisations worldwide. The banking sector is looking to blockchain to speed up cross border payments. Barclays and Santander are looking to use blockchains to simplify processes and remove inefficiencies for their clients' benefit. Cryptocurrencies, which use blockchain technology, have exploded in popularity in the past ten years.
Yet, banking and cryptocurrencies are just the beginning. From infrastructure to identity management passing via the supply chain up to immigration, both the private and the public sector are looking for ways to implement blockchain technology to streamline their processes.
Blockchain technology is the answer to a question.
How can international organisations safely and efficiently share their data across the world? Companies carrying out international trade operate centralised databases, meaning they store their data in one place. Therefore, they are unable to adapt based on location. Inflexible data storage costs organisations time and money. Centralised data storage has accounting costs, data centre rents, legal fees. Centralised data are also the target of cyberattacks. The cost of moving data between different centralised cloud storage platforms is ever rising. Additionally, if a power outage or other failure occurs, services are temporarily shut down, and data is inaccessible or even lost.
It's not just for-profit businesses that suffer because of these inefficiencies. NGO's and governments who partake in or manage systems controlling immigration have similar problems. Refugee and immigrant data stored on a centralised database is often slow to access or verify. Soon, these organisations will need to verify COVID-19 immunisation records of new arrivals into their respective countries.
Plagued by data leaks, bureaucracy, the healthcare industry is riddled with inefficiencies. Patients wait for days or sometimes weeks to share their medical records in different countries. Patient records are often fraudulently copied or altered. While several stakeholders of the aviation industry become increasingly interested into the concept of a health passport facilitating travellers to share their health certificates, Health-ID is looking at corporate wellness programs and employees’ concern to join them due to privacy.
If you would like to read more about H-ID, read the case study here
Several startups have sprung to life intending to enable entrepreneurs to develop platforms secured by blockchains. Ethereum is the largest and most eminent of these.
What is Ethereum?
Founded in 2014 by a programmer called Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum is a do-it-yourself platform for decentralised programs. The platform allows smart contracts and distributed applications (dApps) to be built and run without any oversight or interference. Ethereum aims to move the internet away from being centralised and controlled by a few large organisations. Instead, they believe the entire internet should be redistributed and redeployed to democratise access.
The Ethereum platform has allowed many startups to begin solving problems and improving current industries. We have listed some of our favourites below.
Many artists have long expressed dismay at the reselling of tickets in secondary markets for higher prices. Musicians and performers want their live performances to be accessible to everyone, which secondary ticket markets prevent. Fraudulent tickets are also a big problem within the music industry.
GUTS is right now offering a way for artists and venues to provide secure ticket sales. They have built an app which uses blockchain technology to provide digital tickets that prevent reselling on a secondary market. Every digital ticket contains a self-updating, rotating QR code, which cannot be screenshotted or moved from the app. Consumers feel safe with the knowledge the price of their ticket is fair.
For a long time, the charity sector has put up with claims of inefficiency, opaque operations and an unclear roadmap of what they should achieve by when. The BitGive Foundation hopes to resolve some of these problems.
The BitGive Foundation is the worlds first blockchain-based non-profit. They have built a donation platform that enables charities and non-profits to provide transparency and accountability to donors. They share financial information and results in real-time. Many large charitable organisations, such as Save the Children and the Water Project have chosen to partner with the BitGive foundation.
The real estate industry currently relies on centralised property registration authorities to store and manage data. The archaic nature of real estate transactions means buying and selling property is a long-winded process. Holding this kind of data on a blockchain would enable instant access without an intermediary.
These advantages are not limited to property deeds and the real estate market. Any entity that handles sensitive data could reduce their costs and improve security using either a public or private blockchain.
As you can see, enterprises are implementing blockchain technology worldwide to solve some of the most challenging aspects of business, meanwhile, 131 DLTs projects mapped by the European Commissions' Science Hub are trying to solve the biggest questions humanity faces.
In the next article, I'll be covering the way blockchain technology could solve problems in the future.