An idea of how blockchain will change your life can be gathered from the fact that the spend on researching blockchain solutions by companies worldwide has risen from $1.4 billion in 2016 to $2.1 billion in 2018. In fact, some statistics go so far as to state that the global blockchain value by the end of 2024 could reach a whopping $20 billion, representing a market CAGR of 58.7% from 2016 to 2024.
Needless to say, all this research and optimistic forecasts are based on the belief that blockchain technology offers the potential to find solutions to existing problems in almost every sphere of life. Here’s a look at some ways in which this disruptive tech is already changing our lives.
The protectors of our worldly possessions are themselves plagued by various challenges. Banks usually rely on a centralised database, making them prone to single point failure and cyberattacks. Based on decentralised servers and databases, blockchain technology is one way to safeguard against hacking attempts. Being decentralised means hackers would require access to every computer system on the network simultaneously to enter the database. Another area where the banking sector is applying blockchain is to eliminate the need for intermediaries that raise the cost of transactions.
Currently, the problem with electronic health record (EHR) solutions is that they are offered by a lot of vendors and there is no universal standard followed. Blockchain can set up an ideal data structure that can fetch data from a physician’s installed EHR system and store it on a decentralised cloud, where it can be accessed only by authorised personnel, in a standard ledger format.
Advanced blockchain tech can help to decrease variations in the healthcare and insurance industry by providing accurate data on patients. Different healthcare organisations can connect their systems and establish an inter-operable network, where data is immediately available on a patient when they seek medical help. In January 2017, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) signed a two-year deal with IBM Watson Health to explore how blockchain could be used to securely share patient data. This project aims to deal with the lack of transparency and security in health data processing, starting with a trial on oncology-related data.
3. Government Services
Governments around the globe are exploring the feasibility of putting public services on distributed ledgers, to create new systems for health records, voting, taxation, welfare payments, engaging with citizens and more. Implementation of blockchain can help overcome the barriers created by bureaucracy and corruption. It can bypass the current intermediaries and provide better services and incentives to the general public. Estonia has incorporated blockchain in its renowned e-Estonia programme. Powered by blockchain, this programme connects government services on a single digital platform. The Swiss city of Zug is home to Crypto Valley. Zug already accepts cryptocurrency as payment for public services. The city has also digitised ID registrations built on the blockchain and has recently completed an e-voting trial.
4. Contract Transparency
Smart contracts offer the means to create permanent but auditable contracts. These contracts can be linked to specific programming algorithms to execute a particular task automatically when the conditions of the contract are met. All the responsibilities are clearly specified in these contracts, keeping all parties accountable. It saves time and reduces the amount of money needed to complete paperwork. It also minimises the risk of potential disputes regarding the fulfillment of the contract. Smart contracts are already proving useful for the insurance industry when it comes to dipatching claim money to consumers.
5. Cross Border Payment
Cross border payment is costly, error prone, time consuming and even has issues of money laundering. It takes days to process such transactions. HSBC tested the use of blockchain in trade finance by carrying out a shipment of soybeans in partnership with ING, a Dutch bank. Blockchain consortium R3 was used to carry out the transaction. It took around 24 hours to complete the transaction, which normally takes around 10 days.
6. Internet of Things
Blockchain provides a secured mesh network to allow IoT devices to interconnect reliably and eliminate threats prevalent in central server models. This decentralised approach would eliminate the risk of a single point of failure, creating a more resilient ecosystem for devices to run on. The cryptographic algorithm in blockchain would make data more private.
7. Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS)
RTGS systems are very dependent on a central entity. However, this design entails risks associated with a single point of failure. The distributed consensus nature of blockchain technology can be used to overcome this central point of failure risk. It will enhance speed and reduce costs involved in RTGS. Blockchain privacy properties could also be used to overcome the issues related to privacy.
8. Customer Verification
Know Your Customer (KYC) is a slow and complex process in institutions with a centralised database. Teams are required to carry out this task manually, making it expensive and time consuming. Blockchain technology simplifies this complex process by providing one digital source ID, which can be used by banks and other institutions for authentication of the customer. It will reduce administrative costs with foolproof data security. Startups like Cambridge Blockchain, Credits and Blockstack have been working on building customer identification systems based on blockchain.
9. Supply Chain Management
Every time a product changes hands, transactions can be stored in a blockchain ledger. This can help avoid forgery of records and create a permanent record of transactions that can only be changed by consensus from all parties. Walmart has implemented IBM’s blockchain-based technology to track the supply of green vegetables.
10. Real Estate
History was created in October 2017, when the founder of TechCrunch, Michael Arrington, bought an apartment in the Ukraine using an Ethereum-based smart contract. Soon after that, research conducted in Sweden showed that using blockchain to record property transactions could save more than $100 million for Swedish taxpayers. In addition, real estate tends to be a very illiquid market because investors prefer to hold on to property for long periodsof time. This issue of liquidity can also be resolved with the tokenisation of real estate.
Implementation of blockchain in various sectors can solve the very basic issues of our world. How blockchain will change your life will continue to be revealed as more and more applications are discovered for the technology. But, one thing is certain, this technology is definitely here to stay and disrupt every arena.