Blockchain On The Brain
During the second half of 2017, it seemed that all anyone could talk about was cryptocurrency and the meteoric rise of Bitcoin’s value. Everyone had their eyes on the crypto markets and articles began popping up to explain cryptocurrency and the technology that cryptocurrencies run on: blockchain. ICOs (initial coin offerings) began pulling in tens of millions of dollars and innovators in the tech and business space were trying to figure out how to get in on the trend.
While this whole period was a positive for expanding the public consciousness about blockchain, it led to a major misconception that still persists: the only application of blockchain is for cryptocurrency. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Blockchain is the basis for cryptocurrency, but the technology can be used as the foundation for any industry that relies on the exchange of information and data.
[For a more general explanation of what blockchain is, check out our blockchain explainer series]
Blockchain And The Early Internet
An article in the Harvard Business Review described blockchain as a “foundational” technology – that is, blockchain shouldn’t be considered a “disruptive” technology like Bitcoin or Uber. The same article compared blockchain to TCP/IP technology, otherwise known as a key foundation of the modern internet. Just a TCP/IP laid the foundation for frictionless connectivity, blockchain will provide the foundation for a frictionless exchanges between parties.
Blockchain Across Industries
If we think about blockchain as a foundational technology, the possibilities for its application are almost endless. Below are a few examples:
- Supply chains – businesses would have a fool-proof record of their supply chains from grower to consumer. The diamond and gem industry has already begun to test blockchain-based supply chains to ensure conflict-free mining.
- Gaming – video game users would be able to have more ownership over the value that they create in-game, pulling these underground virtual economies into the real world
- Government – blockchain technology can be used for everything from fraud-free voting, passport control, verifying voter and car registrations, streamlining the transfer of deeds, determining qualification for government aid programs, and more
- Charity verification – donors would be able to track every cent of money they donate to a charity so they know that their money is being used for its intended purpose. The rating of charity organizations can be moved to the blockchain as well, giving potential donors more confidence when selecting a charity to donate to.
- Health records – Moving patient data into the blockchain would provide better security for sensitive health information and help health care providers better share information to ensure quality care for each patient. In addition, blockchain could prove useful in the billing process – ensuring transparency between doctor, insurer, and patient.
An Emerging Technology
There are hundreds more examples just like this. However, every blockchain expert will tell you that blockchain is not ready for all of these applications just yet. Blockchain still has some kinks to work out like slow transaction speeds, high costs for the processing power needed to publish and store large amounts of data, and no recognized way of editing or fixing user error. Just as the modern internet took some time to build itself around TCP/IP, widespread use of blockchain across industries will take some time.
Despite this, the question is not IF blockchain will transform an entire industry, the question is WHEN.
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Posted by Dana Cohen