Blockchain is a term which is constantly brought up whenever we talk about how technology has changed the way we live. For a good reason, blockchain fundamentally transforms our way of life for the better in a multitude of areas. Blockchain is undoubtedly a notable revolution in systems of record. Several of the brightest minds of industries have even described blockchain as the ‘magic beans’ due to the numerous high-level use cases promised by blockchain. Right from the time of its invention, entrepreneurs in industries across the globe have understood the positive implications of this development.
Before delving into the list of blockchain use cases, let us understand the basics of a blockchain.
So, What Is a Blockchain?
Blockchain is digital, decentralized technology which maintains a record of all the transactions which happen over a peer-to-peer network. These records are stored in decentralized systems which are interconnected. Blockchain reduces vulnerability and increases transparency in all business sectors as information is stored digitally and it does not have a centralized point or an intermediary to carry out the transactions. Each group of transactions on a blockchain is referred to as a block and each block is combined chronologically to form a chain. Each and every piece of information recorded on the blockchain is public and every participant has a copy of the blockchain. A blockchain is distributed as it is not controlled by a single entity.
As we have now gained a fair understanding of a blockchain, we will now analyze the top 10 promising use cases of blockchain across various industry verticals.
1. Supply Chain Management
The main issues faced here are:
- Lack of transparency as the product moves along its supply chain.
- Issues in product authenticity as consumers can sometimes receive counterfeit goods.
As we know, the supply chain is a network which is established between a business and its suppliers. Blockchain promises to find a remedy to supply chain problems through the digitization of assets. It allows for products to be tagged and assigned with unique identities which are then transplanted onto an immutable, transparent, and secure blockchain. Blockchain helps in tracking important product information such as the state of the product, shelf life, time, and location. With blockchain-enabled asset digitization in place, a product’s supply chain can be effectively transplanted onto a supply chain.
Consumers can verify the authenticity of purchased goods through a blockchain-enabled supply chain. Products can be accurately tracked across different locations and stages in a supply chain. This way, stakeholders will have the capability to isolate and tackle any potential issues.
2. Digital Identity
Today, digital identity is becoming problematic as centralized entities are becoming increasingly susceptible to identity thefts and data breaches. Ownership is concentrated in the hands of applications and services to which we provide consent to use our data. Digital identity can be described as an online record of information pertaining to individuals and organizations.
In a blockchain, users can have control over their information. Instead of providing consent to many service providers, users can store their digital identity data in an encrypted digital hub. Individuals can control access to the hub and can also revoke access, if necessary. Using blockchain technology, the user can be in control of their digital data and the way in which it is utilized.
Voter fraud is a major issue which is plaguing the current voting structures. This calls for a voter to be present at the polling booth to cast their vote. This lowers the overall voter turnout. Voting is one activity which must have the option of being carried out online also. However, online voting has been resisted by many due to concerns such as security and fraud. Blockchain can successfully eliminate these concerns as it will present a clear record of the votes that have been cast. The tamper-proof feature of a blockchain makes it difficult to hack a blockchain-enabled voting system. With blockchain, the voting process can be carried out comfortably from the confines of the voter’s homes. This may result in a significant rise in voter turnout.
4. Fundraising (Security token offerings)
Though Initial Coin Offerings helped democratize the funding process, this funding model carries some disadvantages. An ICO investment does not represent traditional equity and so, an investor has limited rights on investments. Some of the limitations of traditional financial markets are the intermediary fees, cost of floatation, and the delay in clearing and settlements.
Security tokens are blockchain-based tokens, which enables companies to sell tokenized financial instruments such as debt and equity. Advantages of security tokens are:
The lower minimum investments by enabling fractional ownership.
They can be instantly transferred and traded on 24/7 secondary markets.
This reduces the cost of the investment process as tokens are held by the individuals thereby removing the need for brokers and custody accounts.
Security Token Offerings (STO) are a much more mature and regulated form of investment than Initial Coin Offerings (ICO). STOs are likely to be less in regulatory issues as stakeholders must legally register their products and services with their respective national regulators.
- Medical practitioners lack a clear and complete understanding of a patient’s medical history. This hinders in providing effective healthcare solutions.
- Counterfeit or fake medicines are also a major issue within the medical supply chain.
Blockchain will serve as a tamper-proof and secure database to alleviate the problems faced in the healthcare industry. Patient medical records can be stored on a blockchain. This will make it significantly easier for medical practitioners to get a better idea of a patient’s medical history. Blockchain would also help tag and track drugs at every stage of the supply chain. It will act as a medium to assure the authenticity of the drugs. Patients will also have control over the data stored in the blockchain. Others can view their data only if the patients grant them permission for the same.
A major portion of ownership assets is in paper form. This leaves room for the records to be tampered or subjected to fraudulent activity. Notarization is a fraud-deterrent process which assures the parties of a transaction that a document can be trusted and is authentic. Blockchain technology will add significant value to the process of notarization. The tamper-resistant and transparent feature of blockchain makes it a suitable candidate for notarization. Blockchain can be used in notarization to ensure proof-of-existence. Blockchain helps in proving the existence of the document since the time it was created and modifications can also be detected. Verifying if a document has been altered or not can be done by hashing the document. If there has been any change, the document will result in a different hash and the owner will become aware of the alteration.
7. Food Safety
The supply chain for foods has become longer and complex. There is no transparency regarding the journey of our foods. This results in the increase of contaminated food. There is a chance of inaccurate capturing of data as the records about the movement of food are usually paper-based. This results in costly delays.
Blockchain technology allows quick and easy verification of history, location, and status of a particular food product. Farm origination details such as batch numbers, storage temperatures, shipping details, expiry dates, and factory and processing data can be digitally recorded on the blockchain. End-to-end traceability would improve the efficiency of the food supply chain. Data would be digitally entered on a blockchain and hence, everyone with access to the blockchain can access the data.
8. Intellectual Property (IP)
Poorly maintained IT protocols cause unnecessary legal disputes. Adding a blockchain system can serve as a platform which provides accurate and clear ownership of IP assets. Tamper-resistant blockchains can provide a timestamp to indicate the exact recording time of an idea. This will solve any disputes regarding the origin of an idea. Blockchain also gives intellectual property owners the added advantage of protecting their IP assets infringers, for example, patent trolls.
9. Energy Market
Blockchain helps decentralize the energy market, which is controlled by large corporations. Blockchain allows smart metering of electricity which is generated through the solar panel of individuals to record, trade, and settle on a ledger. If it is possible to trade electricity like any other commodity, energy prices will respond to forces of demand and supply instead of operating on a fixed regulated price. This way, individuals can be both consumers and producers of energy. This helps improve efficiency and reduce costs.
10. Real Estate
Using blockchain technology in real estate has the potential to revolutionize rental property payments. A shared database will enable better decision-making and cost-efficiency as stakeholders, tenants, owners, and service providers can interact with the transaction history or ownership information in a secure manner. Smart contracts help streamline various processes such as rental documents and releasing apartment ownership. Automation of all processes on a decentralized blockchain platform could cut out additional inspection costs, property taxes, and registration and loan fees.
Blockchain is making the impossible possible by allowing people to secure digital relationships. Thanks to the advent of the blockchain, data is now being recorded, disclosed, and secured differently. Due to its tremendous potential, blockchain is being leveraged by many smart and innovative companies for enhancing their business processes and eventually becoming the business leaders of their respective industries.