If your company never made any New Year innovation resolutions, then it is about time that it gets involved in the technological revolution named “Blockchain technology”. The technology has gained traction in every sector of the economy that failure to embrace it could be tantamount to a slow suicide. Blockchain technology promises to be a game changer in both financial and non-financial applications.
What is Blockchain?
Blockchain is a distributed ledger technology which allows users to establish database environments that can allow several mutually untrusting users to append records or exchange value in the absence of a central coordinator. Concepts of game theory and cryptography are combined to eliminate the urge for trust in the system, ensuring that interactions among users are transparent without relying on third parties.
So, does blockchain have any use cases in today’s environment?
Certainly yes! Blockchain has several use cases in today’s global environment. This article only explores the top 5 blockchain use cases.
Applications and Blockchain Use Cases
Loss of trust and inefficiencies have over the years characterized the insurance industry. However, the formative stages of exploring the role of blockchain technology in the insurance industry have shown great potential. Blockchain has led to a disruptive effect on data sharing, claim processing, and fraud prevention in the insurance industry.
Numerous examples abound on the increased use of blockchain in insurance. Notably, RiskBlock Alliance, through their start-up RiskBlock, have come up with a blockchain based proof-of insurance tool that will help all players in the insurance ecosystem to validate insurance coverage in real-time, abolishing the paperwork that has characterized the industry.
Additionally, RiskBlock Alliance announced that it was developing its production-ready blockchain based subrogation application to be launched in the summer of 2018. The application will be based on smart contract technology to enable capturing of consortium member’s payments, hence minimizing on manual processes and thereby expediting accounting and payment facets of claims processing.
While the debate rages over the continued use of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as a legitimate mode of payment, blockchain is stealthily advancing into the arena of payments to disrupt the transaction environment.
Notably, Ripple’s blockchain has been the most coveted by most financial institutions due to the centralized configuration that makes it convenient to partner with. Ripple has managed to partner with several Japanese banks through its blockchain technology to facilitate efficient cash transfers.
Additionally, the use of blockchain technology has made overseas payments faster, cheaper, and efficient. The successful Currencies Direct completion of a foreign payment transfer in seconds over Ripple’s xRapid platform shows the efficiency of blockchain technology in payments. Amazingly, a transaction that could take 3-5 days now takes only seconds on the Ripple xRapid platform.
The mention of blockchain quickly drifts your mind into finance and financial markets. Well, although these industries are trailblazers in the adoption of blockchain technology, they no longer control the monopoly. Increasingly, production-ready blockchain is being developed in the healthcare industry.
Typically, patients interact with several healthcare providers during their lifespan. At each node of interaction, they leave essential data details scattered across various health providers. This results in decayed ease of access caused by disjointed data trail. The solution to the problem of fragmented data trail lies in blockchain technology.
With time, healthcare industries have discovered the value of blockchain in their operations. In the medical arena where privacy is very critical, the adoption of blockchain has gained momentum. Blockchain technology is increasingly being used in the improving authentication, accountability, and confidentiality of data.
An outstanding example of blockchain use in healthcare is MedRec. This is an innovative blockchain technology that uses smart contracts to establish a decentralized content management architecture for patient’s healthcare data across multiple providers. It has an authentication log that manages medical record access, while offering means for data sharing and verifiability.
Arguably, cybersecurity is one of the most significant use cases of blockchain technology. Blockchain technology enables the decentralization of threat protection. CertCoin is among the pioneer implementers of blockchain technology to provide cybersecurity. Its PKI project eliminates central authorities and makes use of the blockchain as a distributed ledger of domains. Additionally, it offers an auditable PKI without any point of failure.
GuardTime is also another startup that is making significant strides in providing cybersecurity through the use of blockchain technology. GuardTime replaces the key-based process of data authentication by storing hashes of both the original files and data on the blockchain, and authenticates any copies by running hashing algorithms. The emerging results are compared with those reserved in the blockchain, and any alteration is easily detected.
Logistics and Supply Chain
Admittedly, managing supply chain in a globalized trading system is a very complicated process. The supply chain, depending on the product, may span several international locations, involve different individuals, include a multitude of payments, and can extend for long periods of time. Consequently, blockchain technology offers a relief from the stress and provides transparency.
With a transparent system, tracking goods and processes can be done in real time. Buyers and sellers, in whichever jurisdiction, can easily track their products and follow up on payments using a centralized ledger.
Another challenge in supply chain is number of intermediaries involved. They not only slow the process but also make the product prices to skyrocket. Blockchain technology helps to eliminate these middlemen. Its centralised ledger facilitates the elimination of middlemen and allow the trading parties to engage.
Since blockchains make it easy to transfer funds across the world without relying on traditional banking, it works well for a globalized supply chain. Notably, Tomcar has capitalized on this to pay its suppliers through Bitcoin. Additionally, Diamond behemoth De Beers uses blockchain technology in tracking its precious stones from the point of mining to the point they are sold to the consumers. The tracking eliminates any incidents of conflict while assuring customers of the authenticity of the stones.
Conclusively, it is important to iterate that blockchain is affecting every facet of life. The uses discussed above are only the top 5 blockchain use cases, and not all the use cases. Increasingly, Blockchain is gaining territory in other sectors not considered here.