What are the applications of blockchains?
Blockchains are basically decentralized permission-less databases whose primary utility is to remove the need for trusted middlemen. In addition, they lower operational costs, speed up traditional processes and systems, and further offer added benefits of accuracy through logic-driven execution and automatic backup of transaction records. There are several concepts and applications that are ripe for reinvention using blockchain technology.
Blockchain in Banking
It has been years now since the cryptocurrency craze has taken over the world. And guess, who benefits the most? You guessed it right. The banking industry! With millions of people showing interest in cryptocurrency and blockchains, banks are buckling up to meet this unprecedented demand from end-customers. While customers are focused on cryptocurrencies, banks are leveraging the technology behind cryptocurrencies, ‘blockchains,’ to improve and revamp the standards of their offerings.
Banks are basically ameliorating their services by utilizing new blockchain protocols. One example is Ripple. Thanks to Ripple’s properties of decentralization, immutability, efficiency, cost effectiveness, and security, today banks can transact directly with each other at low costs of settlements. “People know Ripple is the only blockchain solution for payments that is proven in the real world, and it’s driving demand from financial institutions of all kinds and sizes because they want to stay ahead of the curve,” gleams Brad Garlinghouse, CEO of Ripple.
Blockchain in Healthcare
Healthcare will be one of the most aggressive industries worldwide which will most likely implement or be driven by the blockchain technology. Blockchain, being the future business model of supply chain, can be applied to the entire healthcare value chain. The technology will essentially streamline and transform everything from medical records and payments to processing and analytics, thereby, benefitting all its stakeholders from patients and customers to providers, administrators, and healthcare institutions. By implementing blockchains, healthcare systems will achieve:
- Interoperability: Data will be stored in a single format and can be shared across seamlessly.
- Decentralized data storage: A single technology that would handle every data of patients.
- Power to patients: Patients would be owners of their own data. They will have the power to choose with whom their personal health records are to be shared.
Blockchain in Real Estate
Blockchain has the potential to entirely disrupt the real estate vertical. Stakeholders are developing smart contracts, which will enable real estate contracts, escrows, and property records without title companies or attorneys. In future, it may be possible for a buyer to buy a home and complete the sale by clicking on a shopping cart on a website.
The blockchain will ensure that the buyer gets the title and the seller is paid via cryptos. The handling of money and transactions will inevitably change, and that change is already underway. Brokerages will need to adapt their business models to understand smart transactions to thrive in the era of the blockchain.
Blockchain and IoT
Blockchain empowers all IoT devices to enhance security and bring transparency in their interconnected ecosystems. One notable example of the application of blockchains in IoT revolves around smart homes. Although IoT enables home security systems to be managed remotely from smartphones, the traditional centralized approach to exchange information generated by IoT devices lacks the security standards and ownership of information. Blockchain has the potential to elevate the smart home to the next level by solving security issues and removing centralized infrastructure.
For instance, Telstra, an Australian telecommunication and media company provides smart home solutions. The company implements blockchain and biometric security to ensure that the data captured from smart devices cannot be tampered with. Sensitive user data such as biometrics, voice recognition, and facial recognition are stored on the blockchain. Once the data is saved on the blockchain, it becomes immutable and the access is provided only to selected individuals.
Blockchain in Supply Chain
In a world where supply chains have become complicated owing to nascent demands of end-customers and other stakeholders, companies are in pursuit of technologies that would not only simplify the management of supply chains but also make them automate various business processes that constitute supply chains. Thanks to its vivid and disparate applications, many supply chain providers believe that the blockchain technology could be leveraged to effectively address their predicaments. From automating supplier payments, cold chain monitoring, and executing RFID-driven contract bids to recording product status at the stage of production and using smart contracts for redistributing excess power from solar panels, the applications of blockchains in the supply chain vertical can streamline a plethora of operations. As an upcoming venture, Ethereum will be implemented to tokenize the shipping industry.
Blockchain in Government
While blockchains are gradually eliminating the need of centralized government institutions, it is most likely that the competition between governments and cryptocurrencies will reach its epitome in the years to come. However, governments are aware of the possibilities that blockchains can unsheathe and therefore are in continuous pursuit to implement the offerings of blockchains to improve and revamp operational processes. Many governments have tended to use blockchains for a variety of reasons.
Countries like Venezuela and Russia are incorporating their own national cryptocurrencies to drive a sense of transparency and curb corruption. Also, blockchains can be used to design immutable voting systems where forgery and frauds will be ruled out as myths. Additionally, identity management and tax management can also be improved using blockchains.
Blockchain and Cyber Security
As organizations are getting more dependent on the Internet and technologies for generating revenue streams and articulating business models, the scope of hackers to exploit businesses has risen exponentially. In this state of awe, the need for efficient cyber security solutions is at an all-time high. What solution is better than the decentralized structure of blockchains?
With their distributed ledger technology, blockchains can essentially enhance cyber defense. Blockchain platforms can prevent fraudulent activities via consensus mechanisms and detect data tampering depending on the underlying characteristics of operational resilience, data encryption, auditability, transparency, and immutability. Being distributed, blockchains do not facilitate a central point of failure and, thereby, provide more security as opposed to the available database-driven transactional structures.
Blockchain and Social Media
It was not long ago when social media platforms had engulfed humans from all directions. However, owing to certain violations including personal data breaches and minimal compensations for users, these platforms are starting to lose their popularity. It won’t be wrong to quote that ‘social media is losing its edge.’
Here, enters blockchain to revolutionize the social media space. The technology ameliorates social media platforms to a whole new level. Thanks to its decentralized and distributed ledger constitution, the blockchain technology provides a methodology whereby users can exercise more control over privacy of personal information, at the same time, potentially receiving monetary compensation for the viral content they curate and share. Blockchain can be used to move foundational social media to an entirely different level. The technology has the power to reinvent the very nature of how content and information are privately distributed and managed in a monetized manner.
Blockchain and AI
Often referenced together as accounting technology disruptors, AI on top of blockchains can be potentially one of the most powerful and dangerous technologies that was ever ideated. If we were to decentralize AI, AI algorithms could become Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAO). DAOs are organizations that can operate autonomously and in a decentralized way through smart contracts, without having a central party pulling the strings and making decisions. When conducted optimally, an AI DAO could take over development at some point by learning through data to optimize itself much more effectively than could be done through human designs.
Together blockchains and AI, or what we can denote as a ‘decentralized AI’, can drive new possibilities in the realms of data protection, data monetization, and smart algorithms.