Blockchains are arguably the most important technological innovation to have come out of the past decade. But because of the recent price hike, the media attention has been focused only on the currency aspect of Blockchains, overlooking a plethora of innovative features like smart contracts and multi-signature wallets that Blockchains have to offer. Here’s a look at how Blockchains can make your business more efficient:
Payments are the primary purpose that Blockchain based cryptocurrencies serve and are good at. Cryptocurrencies are especially good at handling cross-border payments as transfers don’t depend on where the money is being sent. There is also no paperwork involved, unlike a bank transfer which is riddled with red tape. The next generation cryptocurrencies, which are based on an implementation of Directed Acyclic Graphs, also have a lot of benefits to offer – like instant zero fees payments. Small businesses can save a lot of money this way by using RaiBlocks or IOTA to save on VISA and MasterCard’s high fees. Privacy-focused cryptocurrencies like Monero could also be useful to businesses who care about their privacy.
According to the Ethereum whitepaper, a smart contract is an application “that runs exactly as programmed without any possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third party interference.” This is a compelling concept which can be used to automate several tasks like automatic payments or rewards distribution. Smart contracts also give small business owners the ability to use more advanced features like escrow services to hold funds on the network until certain conditions are met.
Smart Contracts mixed with decentralized oracles have grave real-world implications as they could be used to create legally binding contracts without the need of mediators. Online betting and gambling, which is a multi-billion dollar industry, has an immense use case for such contracts that make trustless decisions based on predetermined computer code.
Distributed Cloud Storage
Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud Storage is pretty much the gold standard for file hosting for small to medium businesses as the offer pretty reliable service. But a few blockchain based projects, like SiaCoin and FileCoin, are trying to disrupt the cloud hosting services by leveraging the empty hard disk space in people’s computers. The basic idea is that any file stored on the network will be divided up into chunks, encrypted and stored in the network’s storage.
Storing files on the cloud using this method is expected to bring down storage costs by up to 80% as people have vacant disk space in their computers which they can rent out to create a marketplace for data storage. This model offers several benefits over centralized services like AWS Cloud Storage, like decentralization, zero downtime, and more reliable storage.
Blockchain Based Identity Verification
Current estimates put identity verification costs for large corporations and banks at an estimated $30 billion. This is a significant overhead expense that is passed down to the customers leading to increased overall costs everytime a credit check is required. This system is also a bad from the perspective of safety as there is only a single point of failure. The Equifax hack from mid-2017 is a prime example of the failure that was bound to happen to a centralized service like this.
Civic is one the most promising blockchain based identity verification platforms that are trying to address this problem by leveraging the Ethereum blockchain. Civic currently works with its ERC-20 compatible tokens which are transferable on the Ethereum blockchain to provide a secure, fast and immutable store of user’s personal information. When an organization requires those identity details, users get a prompt on their smartphones to share that information. Hence, users can choose to share either entire or parts of their credit report and therefore exercise more control over their private information. Civic makes the whole process a lot faster, cheaper and hack-proof, thereby giving users more control over their personal information.