Blockchain, which is akin to a distributed and decentralized accounts ledger, can record and verify high volumes of digital transactions, irrespective of location. So, blockchain has the capacity to contribute to many industry sectors, besides finance. As a secure technology platform, blockchain’s main benefits are accuracy, protection against fraud, and easy sharing of information.
The sudden rise of bitcoin has given an impetus to this technology in the financial markets, but increasingly, global business operators are realizing its power in other sectors. Blockchain’s transparent transaction-recording system is already benefitting banking, healthcare, infrastructure, and industries. The widespread blockchain disruption is discussed in this CB Insight article.
How Does Blockchain Work?
In blockchain technology, transactional data is recorded and stored as information on a decentralized and distributed ledger. Attributes include:
- A trustworthy repository of all types of transactional data
- Data is updated in real time, ensuring data consistency
- By design, it facilitates rule-based implementation — thus enforcing compliance
- Data-tracing capabilities help reduce conflicts or data breaches
- Efficiency while reducing process-auditing costs
- Control over consumer data
Blockchain Demystified: The Next Database Management Evolution stresses the key concept that drives blockchain: a distributed ledger. This article points out how a wide variety of industry sectors like insurance, education, finance, and health are already reaping the rewards from blockchain use cases.
Which Industries Are the Direct Beneficiaries of Blockchain?
The largest number of blockchain use cases so far are in the global banking or financial services industry, which is currently battling NPAs and money laundering. This path-breaking technology seems to offer permanent solutions to banking fraud.
The banking industry is a direct beneficiary of blockchain, so much so that banks are in a rush to upgrade their systems to comply with all the rules and requirements of the technology. This CIO article explains how the financial services sector is using blockchain to raise efficiency and transparency in their daily businesses.
How Blockchain Plans to End Fraud for Good? seems to suggest that while blockchain is widely believed to be the best technology for preventing fraud in financial services, in reality it has also created opportunities for more sophisticated fraud.
Let’s take another example – that of the industry supply chain. Recently, IBM and Microsoft partnered with GS1, the Global Standards organization for business communications, to utilize the standards of identification in their respective enterprises. The objective of this partnership was to enable the Blockchain network users to increase enterprise-wide adoption, and maintain a single, decentralized, and shared version of supply-chain related records.
This novel approach was adopted by the industry giants to raise trust between network users and eliminate data duplication. The Blockchain Intersection with Supply Chain Data gives a closer glimpse of supply-chain Data Management through this technology.
Industry-specific use cases are highlighted in the article 9 Industries That Will Soon Be Disrupted By Blockchain.
Blockchain Use Cases
A Techradar feature story discusses some of the unusual applications of blockchain technology. They include:
- Public Records Management
Generally, most government agencies are responsible for holding citizen data and many types of classified information indefinitely, and the sensitive nature of this information poses a huge privacy and security risk. Hopefully, blockchain technology will enhance the security of these public data repositories through digital encoding to prevent any type of data manipulation or hacking. Currently, the Land Records Bureau at Brazil is testing out a U.S.-based blockchain solution known as “Ubiquity.”
- Hiring Records
Any hiring organization requires trustworthy and authentic information regarding an applicant’s credentials to judge the applicant’s fitness for a job opening. Blockchain technology offers a Central Ledger, which is designed to keep applicant records permanently, and these records are not available for manipulation to suit the needs of particular job openings.
- Election Management
The digital platforms eliminate the need to be physically present to vote, which enhances the privacy and security of a voter. Blockchain offers not only a secure, digitized voting platform, but also a fraud-free vote counting mechanism, which is a huge cost and time saver. Blockchain could prevent vote-rigging.
- Healthcare Records
Blockchain will help provide enhanced security and better, authorized access to electronic patient records. The most important change that this technology will bring to healthcare information is complete transparency across hospitals, testing labs, and doctor’s offices. Other blockchain use cases in healthcare can be found in Deloitte’s Report Five Possible Uses for Blockchain in Health Care.
- Cloud Storage
As businesses of all types and sizes continue to outsource their storage services to cloud storage providers, blockchain will help reduce the security and data loss concerns associated with a typical public storage solution. Blockchain will also help reduce downtime on the cloud. Users with excess storage will have the option of renting out their spaces for a fee.
Blockchain Use Cases in Specialized Practices
- Contract law
Blockchain technology has tremendous potential to plug existing loopholes in contract law. Blockchain-enabled Smart Contracts offer a range of services that enable the involved parties to preserve permanent records of all transactions between them, including “exchange of values.” Bitcoin Exchange Guide’s Top 6 Most Popular Blockchain Smart Contracts Use Cases and Applications gives more details. In cross-border payments systems, Smart Contracts can help to ease the process of cross-currency payments.
- Identity Management
Blockchain technology allows individuals to select the identification criteria. Thus, users get a great deal of flexibility over their ID management process.
- Mitigation of Cyber Attack
This unique technology ensures that a hacker would have to destroy stored data on every network machine in order to destroy a blockchain network. Moreover, this destruction process would have to happen simultaneously. 6 Use Cases for Blockchain in Security reviews how highly advanced technologies in blockchain make hacking nearly impossible.
The Brand-Specific Blockchain Applications
20 Blockchain Use Case Examples in Various Industries offers compelling use cases involving brands. The brand stories from major players like Deloitte and Standard Chartered depict how this technology is transforming current business practices and transactional processes. Blockchain has brought about increased efficiency while significantly reducing costs.
A Closing Comment
In Putting Blockchain Models to Work within the Enterprise, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy and Architecture at MapR, says, “There’s a pretty large gap on the education side of blockchain,” indicating that most people still harbor a lot of misconceptions about this technology that need to be removed.
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