Blockchain: Possible Uses
Open-source protocol set to upset the present status quo
The revolutionary technology that is blockchain continues to disrupt and dominate entire service landscapes with reckless abandon. Whether realistic or theoretical, case study, or real-life application, blockchain is cutting sectors into bits and pieces like an icebreaking ship navigating through ice-covered waters to provide safe waterways for other boats and ships. It has brought in a fresh wind of change on how to face our immediate digital future with faster, more secure, transparent, tamper-proof, and automated decentralized mechanisms with more than enough capabilities to replace antiquated and centuries-old processing systems which are, sadly, still in operation across economies, administrations, and governance.
Blockchain is a cutting-edge digital technology applied on the Internet with the success of Bitcoin as proof of concept. The core structure of blockchain is the distributed ledger technology, or DLT, that records and stores transactions between two parties in an efficient and permanent manner. A blockchain is formed by separate blocks of data involving related transactions and chained together accordingly in order by a hash. Participating parties, through their computers called nodes, share the same open-sourced ledger without any controlling centralized authority or intermediary. Blockchain brings speed, transparency, and security to a whole new level of efficiency.
Regular contracts become smart contracts when imposed on a blockchain as it outrightly eliminates the need for third parties while adding more accountability to contracting parties deemed not possible when using legacy agreements. The smart contract set-up sets compliance at a higher rate and saves a lot of time and expenses. The execution of smart contracts have brought immense benefits to sectors who chose to implement it such as healthcare, real estate, and the music industry.
BurstIQ is a big data blockchain company in Denver, Colorado helping doctors and patients facilitate the secure transfer of sensitive information via smart contracts with established parameters on what needs only to be shared, including a patient’s personal health plans. Propy from Palo Alto, California, uses a global blockchain operation with a decentralized title registry system for instant title issuance and selling real estate properties, which can be bought with cryptocurrency. Mediachain from New York protects musicians’ rights, revenues, and royalties by entering into smart contracts. They receive payments they deserve in full, on time.
Bitcoin is the first to prove the efficiency of blockchain-powered fund transfer whose success created a huge following by thousands more cryptocurrencies with different cause-cases. The financial industry benefitted most as it took the lead in testing and proving blockchain’s worth by eliminating bureaucratic red tape, reducing intermediary fees, and using distributed ledgers in real-time.
Chainalysis is a fintech company based in New York providing the necessary tools designed to support governments and financial institutions in monitoring the exchanges of cryptocurrencies including the detection of fraud, money laundering, non-compliance and other violations. Chain is another fintech company from San Francisco, California, that builds cloud-based blockchain protocols to aid financial services. Financial institutions can safely handle the transfer of their cryptocurrencies efficiently by using Chain’s cryptographic ledgers. From Boston, Massachusetts, Circle employs blockchain in its investment and money transform platform enabling it to facilitate over 2 billion dollars of monthly exchanges and cryptocurrency investments.
Internet of Things
Internet-enabled gadgets, appliances, and a wide range of other products are a booming lot whose applications are found to be prone to data theft. The use of blockchain in the Internet of Things solves security compromise and, thus, keeps them smart, incorruptible, and transparent.
California-based Xage Security took the challenge to be the world’s first blockchain-powered cybersecurity platform serving IoT businesses engaged in energy, transportation, and manufacture. The protocol is able to manage billions of devices all at once with self-diagnosis and self-healing abilities whenever breaches are found. Hypr from New York outsmarts cybersecurity hacks by decentralizing IoT passwords off a centralized server and using biometrics, rendering IoTs virtually hack-free.
Personal Identity Security
Identity theft is such a rampant crime in the US that identities are stolen at an alarming rate of 1 per two seconds. Blockchain can be a tamper-proof ledger of choice for social security numbers, birth dates, birth certificates, and other sensitive personal information, whose deployment will disable document forgery, personal file hacking, and other means of identity fraud.
The Illinois Blockchain Initiative is a government-led blockchain experimentation in Springfield to secure sensitive official records from birth certificates and death certificates to social security numbers, voter registration cards, and other important data. Civic is a fintech company in California specializing in identity security that alerts users when their personal files are illegally accessed. Features regarding the extent of personal file sharing are entered into by smart contracts in the blockchain ecosystem. Evernym is a software company from Utah whose Sovrin identity ecosystem allows users to self-manage their identities using DLT. Sovrin then brokers stored personal information between the owner and the entity needing the information and its veracity in real-time.
The shipping industry, being an ancient-old trade, is naturally crowded with thousands of logistics companies whose interspersing transactions can be nightmarish, especially in data, communication, and transparency. US docking ports alone make trades with more than 500,000 shipping companies. After a careful study, DHL and Accenture jointly recommended blockchain strategic solutions to finally break out from the industry’s age-old logistics and supply chain management plagues. The transparency that blockchain provides can produce authentic data sources that can be acknowledged by all actors, thereby rebuilding greater trust and confidence within the industry. Tons of paperwork and manual stamps can now be automated thereby streamlining a lot of snail-paced processes, which are not only safe but also cost-effective.
Logistics giant DHL is a frontliner in blockchain deployment by its sparing use of a digital shipment ledger that maintains a high degree of integrity to each and every transaction. One of the largest shipping companies to adopt blockchain, DHL holds major influence in the US. Maersk is another shipping giant based in Denmark who smartly partnered with IBM to provide digital blockchain solutions to its global trade on supply chain management and good tracking anywhere in the world in real-time.
Who would have known that blockchain can improve systems of government? While governments are challenged by the decentralizing effect of cryptocurrencies, they can use the underlying blockchain structure to their advantage to reduce red tape and improve bureaucratic processes, reduce financial burdens, and restore accountability. Blockchain solutions can shorten the service chain, accountability of public officials through smart contracts, and information transparency of every public record. The use of blockchain in voting every election can immensely improve citizen participation by securely voting through mobile services and the consequent high level of integrity in incorruptible vote counting and results.
The State of Delaware, like Illinois, has also launched their own blockchain initiative, starting with the archiving of public documents and the safe and secure storage of private records. What will follow will be the initiation of smart contracts between the government and corporations. Voatz runs on blockchain as a mobile voting platform using an encrypted biometric security system that allows secure voting cast through a mobile device anywhere in the world free from any data corruption of hacking.
Since the digitization of media, countless headaches have simultaneously cropped up regarding widespread illegal sharing of the content resulting in copyright infringement, invasion of private data, unpaid royalties, and intellectual property piracy. Blockchain’s power to save the media industry is displayed by preventing an mp3 file from existing in several sites. Digital music can be distributed and shared without losing ownership, virtually eliminating crimes of piracy due to DLT. Data integrity is preserved which can enable advertising agencies to launch effective niche marketing and musicians receiving their rightful royalties from their original works.
Steem utilizes blockchain in its social media platform with a Proof-of-Brain community that incentivizes its users with tokens for the creation of original contents. The upvotes received by each article is the basis of the amount of tokens to be distributed. Steem has already paid original creators with over $40 million worth of tokens. Civil is empowering journalism through blockchain and uses CVL tokens to encourage a community of journalists to create and run decentralized newsrooms with independent news reporting that is free from a centralized editorial censorship. The non-profit Open Music Initiative is a blockchain platform that allows original music creators to register their music rights data into its open ledger so that they can be recognized and, therefore, be paid correctly for their works. The open source protocol worked well for the initiative which have drawn credible support from virtually all sectors of the music industry, from radio stations and producers, to Spotify and Netflix.
The widest array of use cases is in banking, which we will tackle in another article. But nonetheless, blockchain in the context of banking is almost like overhauling the whole banking processes, an idea that gave birth to blockchain in the first place. Imagine how banking will become when blockchain is employed in each and every area- Faster payments, clearing and settlement systems, buying and selling assets, fundraising, credit and loans, trade finance, digital identity verification, accounting and auditing, hedge funds, and peer-to-peer transfers. It will take a longer time before banking executives can be convinced as to what blockchain technology can present on the table, and conditions met before it is accepted and embraced for mainstream adoption. As a back-end technology, the banking industry may be needing its own restructuring to conform to blockchain adoption, like a ship about to hit a lighthouse.
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Blockchain: Possible Uses was originally published in Cryptocurrency Hub on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.