What is Blockchain Technology?
The Blockchain refers to an open, distributed ledger which underlies various cryptocurrencies (such as Bitcoin) and platforms (like Ethereum). Such cryptocurrencies and platforms wouldn’t exist in their current, modern form.
The Blockchain technology provides an excellent way to transfer and record data that’s safe, transparent, resistant to outages, and auditable. It makes the organizations which use it transparent, efficient, secure, democratic, and decentralized.
The world’s first virtual currency was Bitcoin. It was officially introduced back in 2009. It was the very first time we witnessed the impact of the Blockchain technology.
By 2013, investors had begun surging into Bitcoin and any Blockchain-related startups. Since then, we’ve seen other cryptocurrencies being created. Such include Dogecoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum.
Benefits of Blockchain Technology
This technology is quite likely to affect multiple industries and in a particularly positive way. The potential benefits that various industries stand to enjoy are simply enormous! Among the industries that are expected to benefit from the Blockchain technology the most include:
Most government systems are prone to corruption, slow, and opaque. Implementing Blockchain-based systems will significantly reduce bureaucracy while increasing transparency, efficiency, and security of government operations. Case in point, Dubai aims at having all of its government documents put on the Blockchain before 2020.
This technology will be quite beneficial to the Public Benefits’ system, a sector that suffers from bureaucracy and slowness. With the Blockchain, it’ll be conveniently simple to access, monitor, and distribute welfare and unemployment benefits in an even more secure and streamlined way.
It’s yet another industry which relies on multiple legacy systems and would really benefit from the Blockchain technology. Among the key challenges faced by hospitals is the lack of secure platforms for storage and sharing of data. These are common victims of hacking, especially due to outdated infrastructure.
However, the Blockchain technology will enable hospitals to safely store critical data (such as medical records), sharing it with authorized persons only. That will translate to a remarkable improvement in data security. It might even help with speeds and accuracy of diagnosis.
Tierion and Gem are examples of Blockchain-based companies which are seeking to disrupt the current healthcare situation.
III. Banking & Finance
Most people speculate that the Blockchain will have a similar effect on banking as the Internet had to media. Billions of people from all parts of the world will enjoy enhanced access to vital financial services. That includes people residing in third-world countries and those that are barely able to access traditional banking.
Bitcoin, for instance, enables one to send money to foreign countries almost instantly, incurring relatively low fees. Multiple major banks, such as Barclays, have already begun adopting the Blockchain technology. In turn, that helps quicken their business operations, making them even more secure and efficient.
Surveys and case studies show that banks are increasingly investing in various Blockchain projects and startups.
Crowdfunding refers to a popular fundraising method for new projects and startups. Many crowdfunding platforms have been developed. Such help create trust between the project creators and their supporters. However, most of them tend to charge high fees.
With Blockchain-based crowdfunding, trust is created through online reputation systems and smart contracts, hence removing the need for middlemen. New projects are now able to raise funds just by releasing their tokens which represent value.
The tokens can then be exchanged later for cash, products, and services. Quite a huge number of Blockchain startups have raised millions of dollars through token sales.
V. Cloud Storage
Data on centralized servers is inherently vulnerable to data loss, human error, and hacking. Thankfully, the Blockchain technology makes cloud storage more robust and secure against attacks. Among cloud storage networks using this technology include Storj.
VI. Networking and the IoT (Internet of Things)
Popular brands like IBM and Samsung have adopted the Blockchain technology for an innovative concept referred to as ADEPT. This concept will help provide a decentralized network of most IoT devices.
ADEPT will provide for a public ledger, operating for a huge number of devices. Brands in this niche will no longer need a central location in order to handle communications between various devices.
VII. Supply Chain Management
Credit to the Blockchain technology, it’s possible to document transactions in a permanent, decentralized record. These transactions can then be monitored transparently and securely. It’ll significantly reduce human mistakes and time delays.
Besides, it’ll now be possible to monitor virtually all aspects of labor, costs, and waste/emissions at all points of the supply chain. The Blockchain ledger can also be employed for verification of the authenticity of products by monitoring and tracking them right from their origin.
Blockchain companies specializing in this sector include Fluent, Blockverify, SKUChain, and Provenance.
VIII. Cyber Security
Sure, this distributed ledger is public. However, all data is checked, verified, and encrypted through the use of advanced cryptography. As such, the data is much less prone to being altered with or hacked without proper authorization.
This technology is expected to change the usual approach to consulting, research, forecasting, and analysis. Web-based platforms, such as Augur, are continually seeking to global, well-decentralized prediction markets. The Blockchain technology can be used in placing and monitoring bets on virtually anything, from elections and sports to stocks, in a decentralized manner.
The insurance market is majorly reliant on trust management. As such, the Blockchain brings an all-new way of trust management. It can also be used to help verify multiple different data types in insurance contracts. It’ll be incredibly simple to integrate real data with the Blockchain smart contracts using the so-called oracles.
This technology is quite useful for any kind of insurance that’s reliant on real-world data. Such types of insurance include crop insurance.
The Blockchain has brought about the creation of innovative projects. Such include Aeternity, which is a Blockchain project that’s developing tools which are greatly useful in today’s insurance industry.
You can’t trust the retail system without trusting the marketplace or store itself. Blockchain-based retail outlets work differently; they connect the buyer and seller without middlemen or any other associated fees.
Trust, therefore, comes from the smart contract systems, security of exchanges, and reputable management systems. OpenBazaar is among the Blockchain-based startups that are benefiting the retail space.
Is the Blockchain Technology that Important?
Yes, it’s transactions and contracts, as well as their records, have been playing a crucial role for a long time now. Besides, our political and legal systems rely on transactions and contracts for virtually all core functions.
Transactions, contracts, and records help protect assets and set organizational boundaries. These govern almost everything around us. Unfortunately, the way through which these transactions and records are recorded is stuck way back in the past, barely keeping up with the overwhelming digital revolution.
Therefore, it is imperative that we change how we maintain and regulate administrative control. In fact, that explains why more and more firms are continuously looking to implement the Blockchain technology to the various industries.
So, Where’s the Blockchain Technology Headed to Next?
Does your industry deal with transactions or data of any kind? If that’s the case, you should know you’re in a field that’s likely to benefit from the Blockchain technology. There’s a myriad of opportunities!
We’ve only begun to see the Blockchain technology’s potential. The various innovations have made it even more attractive and usable to a significant lot of organizations which aren’t within the cryptocurrency world.
Political organizations, financial institutions, online casinos, and cloud storage providers have all began using Blockchain technology. And, we can’t be certain of where it’ll go next. But, we also can’t wait to find out.