APPLICATIONS AND USE CASES OF BLOCKCHAIN
According to the World Economic Forum, “Blockchain, or distributed ledger technology, could soon give rise to a new era of the Internet even more disruptive and transformative than the current one.
Blockchain’s ability to generate unprecedented opportunities to create and trade value in society will lead to a generational shift in the Internet’s evolution, from an Internet of Information to a new generation Internet of Value.”
There is no industry which cannot benefit from Blockchain in some or the other way. It is worth noting that the list is already too long and will continue to grow rapidly. But here are five applications and uses cases of Blockchain, which can push it to greater heights:
By facilitating the use of digital assets, Blockchain opens a plethora of opportunities for people. Bitcoin is the first digital asset made on the Blockchain that allows people to exchange value on the Internet without depending upon a third-party to ensure the correct execution of transactions.
Apart from Bitcoin, a new concept known as ICOs emerged around 2013 which helped companies issue digital assets called tokens and raise money through them. You can understand this concept by drawing an analogy with stocks/shares, however, one of the main difference here is that the companies do not dilute their equity in the process.
These tokens can be used by users to purchase the products and services of the company or cash out later when the value of these tokens increases.
Another benefit is to put real-world assets on the Blockchain to track them throughout their lifecycle. This is extremely useful in supply chain management.
Companies involved in a particular transaction cycle often have to maintain their records in their own centralized databases which do not guarantee immutability. Plus, this makes it difficult to track the movement of the asset as it moves from one stakeholder through another.
A perfect example would be the car leasing model.
Car leasing involves various stakeholders like regulators, manufacturers, dealers, leasing company, lessee and the scrap merchant. Through Blockchain, each and every stakeholder can manage, update and analyze all the information irrespective of where the vehicle is. This can improve service, warranty, recall costs and make auditing a lot easier. Thus, the model provides user security, auditability and is counterfeit-resistant.
It is time to face the fact that our voting systems are not cutting edge and the best ones that we can have right?
According to a recent analysis by the Pew Research Center only 55.7% of the voting-age population cast ballots in the 2016 presidential election. The reason is simple – nobody likes to find their voting booth and stand in lines for hours to cast their votes. It seems weird when we think about the fact that despite such technological advancements, our voting mechanism is still very old school.
Counterfeiting of votes and fraud are two key characteristics of elections worldwide. Parties are always trying to trick the system into getting the votes. The advent of Electronic Voting Machine bought some relief but soon these machines were targeted by hackers to send votes to the wrong parties.
Clearly, it’s time to get the voting online. But, we are not talking about voting through the current Internet infrastructure which can make it even easier to hack databases and alter the votes. We are talking about Blockchain technology. Blockchain can help each and every person to cast a vote from the comfort of their home and still be sure that their vote was successfully cast.
Since the items on the Blockchain are immutable, the votes cannot be tampered with and everyone will be able to see the number of votes cast while still maintaining security and privacy.
Places like Estonia and Zug, Switzerland have successfully tried the Blockchain voting mechanism. Thus, it is evident that Blockchain can transform the whole system of voting drastically.
With companies like Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb, the world is moving towards a sharing economy. The rise of the sharing economy is one of the most popular trends in the last decade. But with the advent of blockchain technology, the aforementioned companies may have a hard time.
Right now, we need to use third-party apps provided by big companies that connects us with drivers in exchange for which, they charge a commission. This model is highly redundant when one starts to think of the emerging world of decentralized and P2P architecture.
By building the same services using Blockchain, riders and users can connect with each other directly with rules written on to the Blockchain. The payments can be faster through the use of digital tokens which can further ease the process. Companies like Arcade City are working already working on this project.
While there might be some issues as to the scalability aspect of Blockchain, those issues can certainly be resolved with future developments.
The energy industry has been one of the most centralized industries for a long time. Just like we need banks to send money from one person to another, we currently depend on energy grids for the supply of energy. So producers cannot directly sell to users due to the presence of a middleman.
Before Blockchain the role of the middleman was crucial in connecting the two parties but now, it is no longer required.
It can also help companies in this sector to track and analyze their data in a more accurate and effective way. The companies can then monetize this data and validate energy consumption and savings in real time.
Then we have carbon credits. Carbon credit programs incentivize the companies to reduce their carbon emissions. The degree of carbon emissions reduced by the companies can be tracked on the blockchain and then carbon credit certificates can be given to the companies through the same medium. Since everything is recorded and verified by other parties in the network, it makes the process fool-proof.
The high demand for companies to reduce their carbon footprint and the high costs of energy make the energy management sector one of the best ones to be disrupted by Blockchain.
Whether we all agree or not, we leave digital footprints all over the Internet. You cannot avoid this by any means. In our day-to-day life, we interact with a dozen of different websites and applications that require our personal information to allow us to use these services – Amazon, Paypal, Banking etc are all examples of this.
This leads to your information being stored on the centralized databases of all of these companies. This means a ‘profile’ of your exists on multiple databases. Whenever any information changes, you need to update all your profiles otherwise the information stored becomes redundant.
Finally, the major threat is from hackers. For hackers, it is easy to break into these decentralized databases and gain access to valuable user data. In the data-driven world, one cannot imagine what these hackers can possibly use this for.
This presents a huge problem which increases the costs for business as well as dissatisfaction for users.
The solution? Blockchain!
Through blockchain, you can store all this information in a decentralized and secure way. You can then share this information to all the parties you need to share this with. No party can have access to your information without your permission and it is a robust way to protect your information from hackers.
This reduces the need for you to maintain multiple identity proofs (such as driver’s license, office ID etc) as well.
For businesses, it means that they do not have to spend a lot worrying about the storage and the security of this information.