When bitcoin disrupted the digital ecosystem in 2017, it not only made many individuals super-rich, but also threw light on this revolutionary technology called ‘blockchain technology’.
Apparently, an anonymous person called Satoshi Nakamoto invented bitcoin, backed on blockchain technology, in 2008, and published the details in “Bitcoin: A Peer to Peer Electronic Cash System." In 2013, a whitepaper titled “Ethereum Project” hinted that blockchain, that is securing this digital currency, can be used in multiple applications, other than just bitcoin.
In the years that followed, NASDAQ, IBM, Facebook, governments of Japan and Dubai, and many other big names started playing with blockchain technology. Many created their own cryptocurrency, some secured cloud migration of businesses, many others provided a distributed ledger technology, and whatnot.
Today, the application of blockchain technology is common across various verticals. But what actually is blockchain? Let’s break down the term and see what it means.
What Is Blockchain Technology?
Blockchain is nothing but a combination of two common words- blocks and chains. But these are not the blocks and chains that we see commonly. Here, ‘blocks’ are the pieces of information in digital form, and ‘chain’ is the public database where this information is stored. These blocks can literally store all kinds of information from your transaction history, dates, money, time, numbers, and all else.
For a block of information to be stored in blockchain, the following is supposed to happen:
A transaction should take place.
The transaction should be verified.
The transaction should be stored in the form of a block.
The block of the transaction should get a unique identification code called a hash generated by the nonce.
These blocks are then bound and secured together using some cryptographic principles that are called chains.
In simple terms, blockchain is a series of immutable data blocks. A cluster of computers is needed to manage this data series and no central authority is present in it. Passing information in this series from A to B is much more secure, simpler, and devoid of any transaction cost.
It decentralizes the storage of information as nothing that you feed into it is stored in a single location. All the records are completely public and easily verifiable. Moreover, the entire blockchain is immutable, which means it is impossible for anyone to tamper with the data.
Applications Of Blockchain Technology
When it comes to cybersecurity, there has been no better technology than blockchain. You might associate it with bitcoin and cryptocurrencies but its application is far reached than just these two terms.
Realizing the effectiveness of blockchain technology in cybersecurity, many industries and sectors have started utilizing this disruptive technology in their work. Here are some of the real-life examples of blockchain technology application that we can see.
Government Sector: Ensuring Safety Of Public Records
The government sector has been actively trying to tap on the full potential and power of blockchain technology. The largest record of each individual in the country is stored in a government database and is the perfect target for hackers. Mitigating these risks is crucial for any government. With the blockchain data structures deployed for secure storage of such data, governments can harden the network security and prevent any breach. It reduces the single-point-of-failure risk and ensures minimum cyber breach in the data.
Through decentralization, blockchain can offer more transparency in government operations. It can ascertain its people that there is zero corruption and they can look into and verify the data anytime they want. Moreover, it also not feasible for any government to reserve large chunks of resources in this. They need to be efficient and reduce costs at all costs.
Blockchain can be implemented to reduce the redundancies in operations, streamlining it, and decreasing any burden on audits. It could also speed up the process of reconciling funds and many other government operations. The governments of many countries are already implementing blockchain technologies in many of their operations.
Followmyvote is an initiative that can even be used by the United Nations to ensure greater transparency in election voting and reducing the number of voter frauds. Using blockchain technology, it reduces the cost of elections, ensures voter privacy, allows secure online voting, thus increasing voter turnout.
The government of Estonia’s Guardtime has joined hands with Ericsson to create a new center for database storage and management so that public data can be securely moved to blockchain 2.0.
General Services Administration’s Justin Herman is working to infuse the federal government space with blockchain technology. He has high hopes that this would be very useful in storing all types of information and data like federal patents, trademarks, Social Security numbers, visas, passports, etc.
Retail Industry: Eliminating Third-Party Interference
Technology, being dynamic, has disrupted the retail industry at every turn. While the e-commerce portals transformed everyone into online shoppers, technologies like extended reality, predictive analytics, machine learning, etc., are disrupting how we shop. However, going digital did come with its setback and brought online frauds and cheats with it. This is where the e-commerce companies and retail businesses are tapping into blockchain for.
The big players of the retail industry are tapping on blockchain to secure their operations and making it look more alluring (worth-trusting) to the shoppers. It can be used to add transparency in the transaction and providing the customers with the complete details about the product right from its date of production to the use cases.
Moreover, many retail businesses are also using blockchain to bring in the future of currencies, cryptocurrencies. In the future, retail might allow cryptocurrencies as a deposit for hard cash to get more business from across the borders. Customer loyalty programs can be commissioned by retail people using blockchain.
On a different aspect, it can also help eliminate the inefficiencies of logistics and supply chain management in the retail industry.
Ecoinmerce is a Washington based e-commerce platform that allows its users to own digital assets like brands, stores, and crypto. These are blockchain tokens which they can then use for trading across the marketplace. It achieved to reduce the product price by 60%.
Shopin connects retailers with customers and helps the former get a better insight into customer behavior using blockchain. It stores the customer information with their consent (for which they are rewarded in cryptocurrency) and shares it with retailers.
Loyyal is an amazing loyalty framework based on blockchain. With it, customers can combine their loyalty rewards and even find new and innovative ways to trade them.
Financial Service: Cutting Back Costs & Reducing Fees
Blockchain’s potential in financial services is something many professionals have been looking into. In fact, an IBM survey report stated that over 91% of the banks worldwide have started investing in blockchain solutions. It could be easily used to make transactions via financial institutions more secure and efficient. Acting as a ledger, blockchain can be used for recording and storing all the financial transactions without giving any one single point of risk. The data would be stored in multiple locations and a copy of new transactions would be added to each of the ledgers.
In case someone tried to hack or play with the data of financial transactions stored in these ledgers, it would be required to get into each ledger, which would practically be impossible.
Apart from securing these, it can also be used to speed-up the cross-border transactions, increasing transparency in transactions, and allowing digital identity verification.
Bank Hapoalim is collaborating with Microsoft to bring together a system powered by blockchain for the smooth management of bank transactions.
Hydrogen Molecule, an innovative platform, can be integrated into third-party tools and financial systems to add blockchain components in it. It can help with digital identification, crypto payment options, tokenization, etc.
Aeternity is automating the payment process using blockchain network technology. It activates the smart contracts f the conditions are met and agreed by network consensus.
Barclays is using blockchain for a variety of purposes like financial transaction tracking, ensuring compliance, etc.
Healthcare: Managing Patient Database Authenticity
Blockchain technology is also revolutionizing the healthcare and medicine industry. The decentralized system presented by blockchain would break down the central authority for storing the medicine-related data. Transferring the patient medical records becomes more transparent with blockchain technology. It can encrypt the patient data which can then be used in the times of any harmful disease outbreak.
It can also be used for the control of the temperature in which the pharmaceutical products should be stored. This blockchain technology can then also be effective in tracking and tracing the shipment of the medicines. When doing clinical trials, doctors can also transfer files including patient data, payer information, etc., through the encrypted system of blockchain.
Using smart contracts, blockchain technology can also be used for connecting patients with healthcare to provide value-based healthcare.
Many companies are even using blockchain to counter drug scams through traceability and knowing any counterfeits. It can tell about falsified medicines.
MedRec is a project by MIT that will be used by the healthcare industry to ensure confidentiality and authenticity during data sharing. Blockchain would be used in storing electronic medical records.
MedicalChain is a blockchain-based platform that protects patients’ identities and their origin through advanced technology. It also has a MyClinic site that allows patients to pay using MedTokens for virtual doctor appointments.
SimplyVital Health is enabling coordinated care for patients through blockchain. It allows the creation of an open-source blockchain database from where doctors can access patient information to provide care.
Real Estate: Solving Land Registry Problems
Blockchain has started disrupting the real estate marketing of different countries across the globe. It is certainly acting as the flag-bearer of digital transformation for this sector. Its decentralized technology for record-keeping would help instill a level of trust among the property buyers. Whether it is property purchase, title management, conducting due diligence on the property or even getting crowd-sourced investment, blockchain would enable it all.
Blockchain-based property management software and other tools would be used by real estate giants to keep the ledger. The peer-to-peer network platform offered by the decentralized technology would help in putting an end to corruption and fraudulence in this sector.
It can allow property to be listed on a single decentralized blockchain database to ensure reliable data for listed properties is provided. For financial valuation of the property and tracking the history while avoiding any third-party contact. It also provides a more transparent and quick mode for payment without involving any intermediaries.
ShelterZoom is aiming to put all the payment and property management processes on Etherium blockchain. It would provide a platform for buyers, sellers, real estate agents, renters, etc., to access legal documents, property titles, mortgages, home inspection reports, etc.
BitofProperty is a Singapore-based company that has built a blockchain crowdfunding platform where users can invest in rental property and get monthly payments from it.
Ubiquity is a budding startup that is developing a blockchain-driven system to remove friction from real estate transfer by tracking and tracing the legal processes.
Blockchain: Transforming the Future
Retail, government, real estate, financial services, and healthcare are not the only sectors that are digging into blockchain technology to add transparency, accountability, and security to their operations. Tourism, transport, manufacturing industry, supply chain management, and many more sectors are also tapping into their futuristic tech.
It won’t be surprising if we would see cryptocurrencies, secured by blockchain, coming at par with or even replacing the regular currencies for everyday transactions. It would make thing more secure and transparent and allow people to have a complete tab on their data without actually worrying about it getting hacked or tampered with.