The number of people using blockchain technology has grown significantly in the past ten years, in part because the technology has gained much attention as it is used to issue Bitcoins. Yet, blockchain's
applications have broadened well beyond cryptocurrencies. The financial services sector (BFSI), healthcare, the education sector (K-12), real estate (DigiShares), logistics (Walmart), and the Internet of Things (IoT) are just a few that stand to benefit significantly from blockchain technology. Blockchain technology and distributed ledger technology (DLT) bring greater transparency to organisations, their suppliers and/or customers and since a blockchain network may operate by using smart contracts and without the need for human intervention, many process can be automated.
Below is a selection of the variety of ways that blockchain technology is being used:
Smart contracts are blockchain-based, real-time contracts which live on a decentralised, distributed blockchain network. They are set up when two or more people agree on something without the need for a third party, so reducing counterparty risk costs and thus improving the efficiency of a transaction. Smart contracts are already standard in the healthcare and real estate industries, and even with government entities.
- Propy (real estate) - a blockchain-based title registration system. As a result, the whole process between buyers, sellers and real estate agents is automated. Using blockchain technology, Propy enables the rapid issuing of property titles and the purchase and sale of real estate using digital currencies.
- BurstIQ (healthcare) - smart contracts based on big data have been used by BurstIQ to make it easier for patients and doctors to share sensitive medical information with each other. These contracts establish the criteria and guidelines for data exchange and contain tailored health plans and other pertinent patient information.
Internet of Things (IoT)
With billions of linked devices, the IoT market is expanding at a lightning pace. On-line market and consumer data platform, Statista, reports that: “The most recent projections estimate that by 2030, there will be 50 billion gadgets in use across the globe.”. As this number increases, so does the chance that hackers could gain access to your network by taking advantage of one of the many linked devices. Data breaches are unlikely to occur if blockchain technology is included in IoT gadgets.
- HYPR (IoT/Cybersecurity) - by combining the very secure FIDO token with mobile phone technology, HYPR takes security to a new level. HYPR ensures that IoT devices cannot be messed with because of its biometric authentication and decentralised credential systems.
- Xage - Xage a blockchain-based cybersecurity platform made specifically for Internet of Things (IoT) companies in energy, transportation, manufacturing and other industries. With Xage's technology, billions of devices may be monitored and controlled simultaneously.
The best applications of blockchain technology to date are money transfers and payment processing. Transactions may now be made instantly and with lightning speed, thanks to blockchain technology.
- Circle (FinTech) - using USD Coin (USDC), stablecoin has a market capitalisation of $44+billion, Circle is expected to make over $438million in interest in 2022 due to rising US interest rates, up from $28million in 2021.
- HSBC - HSBC's, FX Everywhere platform, has settled over three million intrabank trades worth $2.5tn+ since going live.
Selection of companies using blockchain technology
Safety of private identities
Hacking and identity theft are two of the most lucrative forms of cybercrime today. The current version of the centralised Web 2.0 has experienced many problems, such as selling users' personal information to third parties, identity theft, people using the same passwords and usernames, and other similar issues. Because of this, it cannot provide users with SSIs (self-sovereign identities), but blockchain technology can give people complete control over the data that goes with their digital identities. Therefore, one of the applications of blockchain that opens the way for SSI is personal
- Civic (FinTech/Cybersecurity) - Civic is a platform built on the blockchain which includes a digital wallet that can also be used as an ID card and empowers people by giving them
more control over their digital identities. It is able to do this by
using blockchain to verify people's identities, keeping health status information private and permitting people send Bitcoin to each other. With Civic, you enjoy the flexibility of being able to share your identity and personal information only with the companies you trust.
- Evernym (IT) - using its ‘Sovrin’ identity ecosystem, Evernym lets you manage and control your online identity. Sovrin stores your personal information and act as a middleman between you and those entities that require your private information. It checks the data in real time for each transaction. Using Evernym's tech stack and market resources, you can make and use self-sovereign identity solutions.
Some of the biggest problems in the logistics industry are data silos, poor communication, and a lack of openness. The fact that hundreds of firms compete in this space adds another layer of complexity, increasing the time and money these challenges cost businesses. Here, the openness of Blockchain's data I proving to be a powerful tool. Blockchain technology can help make the logistics industry more open and trustworthy by verifying data sources and making operations more efficient. Many logistics companies have started using blockchain technology because it can keep accurate records of where goods are as they move from one storage facility to another. All parties involved can track things more quickly because of the blockchain's transparent recording of data on their travels.
- DHL (supply chain management, logistics) - it uses blockchain-based supply chain management to record and verify shipping details without compromising security.
- Maersk (supply chain management, logistics) - working with IB to integrate blockchain technology into international trade. Through this collaboration, Maersk hopes to realise the full potential of blockchain technology to enhance its supply chain management practices and enable the real-time, digital tracking of goods as they transit international borders
Data privacy, IP piracy, royalty payments and copyright infringement are all problems that digital media organisations face. Integrating blockchain technology into the existing digital media framework allows businesses to safeguard their intellectual property, keep data secure, better understand their customers and pay royalties on time to their artists.
- MadHive (media & advertising) - New York City's, MadHive, is a full-service advertising firm for the digital marketing industry. MadHive allows you to keep tabs on your customers, record their actions and compile detailed reports - all of which are stored on an encrypted blockchain. MadHive helps businesses to improve their knowledge of their target demographics by monitoring data in real time and providing reports based on analytics gleaned from the data collected.
- Steem - social media platform, Steem, often known as a "social blockchain," incentivises users to produce new, high-quality content by paying them in Bitcoin. Steem users are considered stakeholders in the network and have complete ownership of their data. Tokens of a digital currency are awarded for each contribution made.
The immutability of blockchain-stored information is very useful in the education sector, with integration of blockchain technology into existing control systems and record-keeping being straightforward. Also, a document's legitimacy (i.e., qualifications) can be easily proven since anyone is able see its author and date. The University of Nicosia in Cyprus is an early adopter where degrees and certificates are kept on a blockchain database at the institution. It is also the first school in
the world to accept cryptocurrency for tuition.
Regarding data processing, blockchain technology's implementation in healthcare saves lives. One of the most promising uses of blockchain technology in health care is the Healthureum platform. The tool, built on a blockchain, is used to monitor and record information about any changes made to patients' medical files. Data encryption problems can be solved in several ways, such as limiting who can see information about patients or making access on the blockchain that only a supervisory body or other regulatory bodies can access:
- Ambrosus - this technology tracks the custody chain of clinical trial data and medications. Companies in the food and pharmaceutical industries can use it to monitor their supply chains better and improve quality assurance.
- ConnectingCare - facilitates communication between medical professionals and their patients. Also, it makes possible a wide range of niche applications, such as estimating costs, giving patients control over their data privacy and making money from sharing data for scientific research.
Although once used merely for payments, blockchain is now a fast evolving technology with the ability to process and handle more and more data and is being seen to be utilised in many industries on a global basis. Different blockchains and DLTs are appropriate in different situations and, in the same way we no longer dwell on how to use HTML files or be proficient with pivot tables in Excel spreadsheets, how long will it therefore be before the technology is simply used without the need to be discussed?