On the Applications of Blockchain Technology
(Read Part II here)
Digitally distributed decentralised ledger technologies, or blockchains, go far beyond just cryptocurrencies and digital payments. With inherent features promoting transparency and fairness whilst simultaneously saving businesses money and time, they could potentially serve myriad different functions ranging from how transactions are carried out, contracts are enforced to how governments can become more efficient.
Some of the most prominent areas of blockchain application in front of us currently and set to boom include the secure sharing of medical data, real-time IoT operating systems, NFT marketplaces, supply chain and logistics monitoring, real estate processing platforms, voting mechanisms, personal identity mechanism, and several others.
The 2021 Global Blockchain Survey report by Deloitte, for example, considers the possible disruption by blockchain technologies of the financial services industry (FSI) as the most primary. They write:
“Indeed, the rise in digital assets is affecting every organisation and industry that is a customer of FSI – that is, pretty much everyone. Blockchain is driving change in the holistic financial ecosystem, from deposit taking to payments, lending, investing, and trading anything of value. The very nature of financial instruments, from money to stocks, and the infrastructure for any type of transaction is changing – for the better.
Thus, our focus on FSI is well placed.”
With the above in mind, it would be prudent to recognise some of the primary use cases of blockchain technologies in use currently, and what the future scope of those industries may be.
- Money Transfer: With cryptocurrency transfer apps now exploding in popularity, the use of blockchain has boomed, especially in finance, given the time and money it saves financial companies. BuiltIn writes: “by eliminating bureaucratic red tape, making ledger systems real-time and reducing third-party fees, blockchain can save the largest banks $8-$12 billion a year.”
US-based Algorand, for example, is developing technologies that reduce gaps between decentralised and traditional finance, implementing next-gen products and protocols in order to ensure more equitable financial transactions.
New York-based organisations Gemini, a licensed digital asset exchange, facilitates the regulated buying, selling and storing of digital assets such as Ethereum and Bitcoin; and Chainalysis builds tools to aid financial institutions and governments to monitor exchange of cryptocurrencies.
- Smart Contracts: Smart contracts are essentially regular contracts – except, their rules are enforced in real-time on the blockchain. This eliminates the need for a middleman, adding levels of accountability for all involved parties in a way not possible by most traditional agreements. This not only saves businesses time and money, but also ensures compliance from all involved.
Currently, sectors like the real estate industry, healthcare and governments have all started implementing smart contract technologies, and in discovering their benefits. Colorado-basedBurstIQ uses big data-based blockchain contracts to help patients and doctors securely transfer secure medical information. New York-based music startup Mediachain allows artists access to royalties through a decentralised transparent contract, and was acquired by Spotify in 2017.
- IoT: BuiltIn, like many others, opine that the Internet of Things (IoT) is set to be the next logical boom in blockchain applications. With millions of applications and devices now using IoT, the blockchain adds “a higher level of security to prevent data breaches by utilizing transparency and virtual incorruptibility of the technology to keep things ‘smart’.”
Nevada-based Filament! creates software and microchip hardware allowing for interconnected devices to operate on the blockchain. The company’s products encrypt ledger data and distribute real-time information to other blockchain-enabled machines, thereby allowing for the monetisation of those machines based on timestamps.
New York-based HYPR is a cybersecurity firm thwarting risks in IoT devices with decentralised credential solutions. By taking passwords off the centralised server, it aims to make IoT devices virtually ‘unhackable’ using biometric and password-free solutions.