Blockchain, popularized by pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto in his white paper “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System,” is a decentralized database that is immutable and continuously reconciled. While Bitcoin made blockchain famous, what Satoshi may or may not have known is that blockchain technology would gain disruptive power on the level of electricity and the Internet, infiltrating the processes of nearly every industry of the world. Blockchain technology offers a wide array of benefits for companies that need to exchange or verify data, keep tamperproof logs, maintain transparency, track transactions, or efficiently reconcile records. Below are ten industries that are utilizing blockchain to great effect.
Governments are often buried in paperwork, necessary audit trails, and are oftentimes impaired by human error. This is why forward-facing governments like Dubai have begun to implement blockchain for certain administrative processes, such as driver’s license applications. Not only does blockchain automate processes and reduce human error, it also decreases the need for resources, such as paper and energy. Dubai is also using disruptive technology, including IoT devices, to monitor how technology affects the happiness of their citizens.
Governments can also be prone to corruption, but blockchain can help. Blockchain technology can be utilized for the voting process to create a verifiable track record of citizens’ votes, making it near impossible to tamper with ballots.
Business Funding & HR
Many processes in business can be automated and tracked using blockchain technology, but a recent use case for blockchain helps businesses from the very beginning. New businesses are increasingly opting to launch initial coin offerings (ICOs) and token sales in order to support their initial business ideas, sometimes with the ability to reach a wider range of investors.
Similarly, human resources departments are poised for disruption. Blockchain technology can reshape some of the core facets of HR, including payroll, recruitment, competency management, and learning, according to Deloitte.
Finance is among the leading industries that blockchain stands to disrupt. At first glance, digital currencies probably come to mind. But blockchain is reaching much deeper into the finance industry. Blockchain enables microfinance, such as microloans; opens opportunities for new structures within the insurance sector; and impacts asset management, clearing, and settlement. Even now, major financial institutions across the globe have begun experimenting with blockchain technology.
Healthcare is known for fragmentary data, and in this industry, relevant, accurate data has the power to save a life. This is another area where Dubai is excelling. They are combining IoT medical devices with blockchain technology in order to eliminate human error. Collected information, such as vital signs data, is automatically logged to the blockchain at intervals. Records held in the blockchain are widely accessible, thanks to being decentralized. With blockchain technology, patient records can update in near real-time across all departments, ensuring accurate information that is both up-to-date and secure. In conjunction with other disruptive technologies, such as Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence, the healthcare industry is changing rapidly.
Proving ownership of intellectual property has long been a struggle for artists. Similarly, tracking who has paid to use art has been largely inefficient, allowing pirates to utilize stolen art for profit. However, blockchain technology is disrupting the world of art and copyright by allowing artists to create immutable records of ownership for their work, including photography, music, and books.
Marketing & Advertising
Among the most costly aspects of marketing and advertising is the price of the middleman who is used for trust and verification. Blockchain eliminates the need for middlemen, such as Google, in the marketing and advertising process. Blockchain can store a record of impressions and similar statistics between two parties and, via smart contracts, can even handle required transactions, making the “trust fee” a thing of the past.
Energy is another arena where blockchain can eliminate the need for a middleman. Forward-thinking startups, such as Transactive Grid, are utilizing the Ethereum blockchain to allow people to “generate, buy, and sell energy to their neighbors.” Blockchain-enabled IoT devices can also be enabled to collect energy consumption and production rates on products, such as solar panels.
Blockchain and supply chain is a crossover that has become the focus of major players, such as Walmart, IBM, and Maersk. Because blockchain can be used to create an audit trail of every stop an item makes through the supply chain, efficiency and transparency can be greatly increased. At IBM’s Think 2018, supply chain was an obvious trend. Among their most impressive reveals was a tiny IoT and blockchain-enabled computer that is smaller than a grain of salt, costs less than ten cents to manufacture, and can be embedded into products to track supply chain data.
Blockchain is poised to disrupt real estate in three major ways in 2018 according to Forbes: through transactions, title records, and MLS property data. Blockchain can overcome the currently fragmented MLS system to create a shareable, up-to-date database that allows for cooperation among real estate professionals. Blockchain can also be used as proof of ownership when tracking and transferring property titles, eliminating confusion and fragmented records. In the transactions realm, blockchain technology can be used to transfer both data and money without the need for trust or middlemen. Even today, interested parties can buy a house with Bitcoin on sites like Realtor.com and Cryptohome.
Charity & Nonprofits
In the nonprofit world, transparency is of utmost importance—and transparency happens to be a major benefit of blockchain technology. When charities use blockchain to track donations and transactions, donors can see provable records that their money has gone to good use. Similarly, smart contracts on the blockchain can ensure that donors only pay if companies raise enough money to fulfill their goals.