Top 13 Fields to Apply Blockchain To
Blockchain represents a technological miracle. The ability to quantify and share data in a trustless, permissionless way offers the possibility of an endless number of improvements on the processes that make up our personal and professional lives.
While cryptocurrency remains the prominent use of blockchains, it is not impossible to imagine a time when one or more than one of the 13 alternative uses listed below becomes an unseperatable part of your existence.
This article will discuss 13 fields – beside cryptocurrency – where blockchain technology could be applied to.
Despite the fact that blockchain and bitcoin were introduce to offer an alternative to the banks, there are features that make the technology existing to the financial industry.
One of these are cross-border payments. The industry leader for real-time gross settlement, SWIFT, has incorporated blockchain technology into its messaging system, making it easier to track interbank transfers. Ripple has created a medium where banks can transfer payments in a matter of seconds without the need for costly infrastructure replacement.
Visa and MasterCard are both creating business-to-business transnational payment platforms that effectively cut SWIFT and any other third-party provider out. While the companies have ruled out blockchain for low-value, high-volume scale or consumer-level transactions, for cross-border payments – where timeliness can be measure in hours or days – blockchain is perfectly adapt.
Blockchain is also being looked at as an answer the clearing and settling problems faced by investment banks. Much of the system that records and manages loans and securities rely on manual reconciliation. The Australian Securities Exchange is already moving to transition its post-trade clearing and settlement to a blockchain, while the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation in the US is moving to transition post-trade single-name credit default swaps to a distributed ledger.
Blockchain technology can also be apply to trade finance management, syndicated loan management, and consumer identification verification. More importantly, blockchain can make it easier to spread banking to the unbanked or underbanked by extending cryptocurrency-based banking services, such as loans and lines of credit, to those that have no access to a bank or those that cannot qualify for traditional banking services.
Real Estate/Mortgage Origination
Buying a house can be a paperwork disaster. As a potential owner, one must check to ensure that the property he/she seeks to buy is clear of all obligations. This can include tribal claims, liens, easements, tax obligations, or other entanglements. Failure to “clear” a property could leave the new owner subject to these obligations or could negate the sale entirely – with no remedy to the buyer.
This situation has created an industry of mortgage search attorneys, mortgage insurance, and other oddities that could significantly add to the home’s final cost and time to close. In countries with more convoluted land ownership issues, like Brazil, this could mean that home ownership is an impossible dream.
Worse, this bureaucratic maze makes it easy for crooks to pray on the innocent. A criminal can easily spot a house that is either vacant or rarely-used, place an ad to sell it, forge a fake title to the house, offer the title to the unsuspecting buyers, abscond with the money and leave a very large mess to be solved – usually at the cost of high legal bills between the rightful owners and the defrauded.
Blockchains can help with this. By loading a land registry’s document cache onto a blockchain, a mortgage search can be as easy as logging on to your local registry’s website and doing a simple computer search. A buyer can quickly learn the name of the rightful owner, see who has a claim on the house, and know if the title is in dispute before laying down a single dollar for the purchase.
It is somewhat difficult for artists to establish ownership of their work. Worse, for end-users, one’s purchased rights to a piece of work may be dependent on the rights management company that holds those rights staying in business or not losing their data. If a consumer’s rights to a work is lost, this can open up the consumer to expensive infringement lawsuits.
For the movies industry, for example, a collapse of music rights management could mean that the studio can be sued for each movie that has the involved music, each time the movie is played. Worse, if the digital rights management system fails on a studio’s portfolio of works, then every album, movie, game, or book that studio have protected under that system can be reproduced and sold with no attribution or compensation to the studio.
A blockchain offers one solution to this. When a customer buys a piece of work, that customer’s identifying information – likely, a randomly-assigned code that corresponds to an user account – will be permanently entered into a blockchain. When the customer goes to play that piece of media, the player would connect with the blockchain, confirm identity, and transmit a private decryption coded to allow viewing.
For non-digital works, a blockchain can help with establishing provenance – a key component of establishing value. A creator can register his/her work on a blockchain, which would also record each sale and purchase of the piece. Determining provenance of a piece can be as easy as scanning a barcode on a painting’s stretcher or having a recognition program scan and match the image.
As an illicit product, banks opt not to associate with businesses that deal in cannabis. This is despite the fact that several states allow for recreational cannabis use and most states permit medical use. The federal position on cannabis use places the banks in the unenviable position of choosing between shunning a new customer base or running afoul of the government that provides them the licensing they need to stay in business.
Cannabis, meanwhile, is a high-volume, high-cashflow business. Without a valid way to deposit cash transactions, not only would cannabis retailors have difficulty paying suppliers, but the businesses themselves are regularly targeted by armed theft rings.
Transitioning to cryptocurrency, however, offers an out for cannabis businesses. As cryptocurrency is typically extranational, there are no pressures from regulators to prevent it use in nations where crypto use is legal. Offering cryptocurrency as a payment option, or transferring daily tallies to crypto offers a makeshift option to safely storing large sums of money.
Another issue is credit. It is difficult to establish credit if you cannot get a banking account. Blockchain can track the reputation of a business through verified customers, making it easier to make credit-line decisions.
Valuable metal trading can be tricky, as it involves the transport of many pounds of a physical asset. Blockchain makes tokenizing your valuable metal easy, so trading is now as simple as an email, with the transparency needed to safeguard the transaction. Some has come to see gold tokenization as a way to remonetize gold – something that has been a dream since Richard Nixon removed the US from the “gold standard.”
Similarly, through tokenization, any commodity can be monetized, with connections to traditional banking products such as credit cards and banking accounts.
Enterprise database management can be a challenge. An administrator would need to manage multiple file servers – many of which may be incompatible with each other – and keep track of each authorized applications’ protocols and needs for autonomous data retrieval. Such complexities make auditing and governmental compliance a challenge.
Creating a blockchain interface for your data management system can simplify all of this. The blockchain would store record location data for each of the database’s records, as well as the proper protocol for retrieving that record from the system. An application will need to access the blockchain, and the blockchain would facilitate the actual retrieval. As there is only one API that would be needed for all applications accessing the blockchain, mainstreaming new applications is simple. More importantly, data retrievals are quicker with more consistent results, and administrators can add or replace data modules to the blockchain with relative ease.
Verifying your identity online can be a challenge. Usually, it involves answering a handful of multiple choice answers based on your credit history. As anyone that had to go through this can attest, it is annoying. It is also not very secure. Anyone with casual knowledge about you can answer that survey, and there are paid services that can survey that credit report for you – the same one the survey is using. This creates a quandary: how can you verify a person’s identity when we live in a world with a person’s data is buyable?
The answer may be to tokenize your identity. A blockchain can be used to store digital identification, security account keys, and critical data to a permissioned distributed ledger connected to a personal identifier unique to you, such as an optical scan or a fingerprint. Such a system can be the backbone of digital licensing systems or online voting.
This could form the basis of a trusted verified identity system that is virtually impossible to defraud. As the system is a blockchain, any local changes would be detected and rejected, and attempts to “hack” the system would be permanently recorded.
Once digital identification exists, extending it to voting would be a simple matter. The identity profile would protect the integrity of the vote, which would then be reported to a central tally for analysis. Not only would digital voting improve the democratic participation process and make it easier for more people to vote, it would make current issues like outside interference, allegations of voting fraud, and allegations of illegal voting a thing of the past. Simply put, blockchain and elliptic curve cryptography make the notion of cheating the vote obsolete.
One of the more interesting uses of tokenization is with energy. By partitioning energy delivery by traceable tokens, one can not only set up a household budget, but can also set up budgets by floor, room, or device. Energy tokenization also makes it easy to trade, buy, and sell energy when needed.
For example, a nearby neighbor may be producing 15 excess token of energy per day from his roof-mounted windmill. He could sell the tokens back to the power company or he could trade them with a neighbor for tokens in the future. The neighbor, while inspecting his household grid, also notice an old television with a burnt-out resistor drawing excessive current. He take the TV in for repair, bringing his average load back to reasonable levels.
Such benchmarking and allocating makes it easy to be green and to weigh the value of certain decisions, such as the value of investing in local energy generation.
Gaming & Gambling
While not the most socially-forward use of blockchain, there is a growing interest in using blockchain for gaming and gambling. As smart contracts can take bets, make payments, and conduct mathematical equations such as random number generation without a third party, it is possible to create a fully automated and transparent gambling app.
Smart contracts can also store game states and game variables, allowing for decentralized games to exist. It also allows non-decentralized games to share data, such as player-versus-player information, high scores, and in-app purchase information, without the need of a central server.
Blockchain has hosted the world’s first virtual nation, BITNATION. “Nation State Governments have failed to keep up with the technologies that are transforming our lives,” the BITNATION homepage reads. “The Internet has radically interconnected our world and Blockchain technology – a cryptographically secured public ledger that is distributed amongst all of its users – allows us to choose to govern ourselves for the way we want to live now: peer-to-peer, more locally and globally.”
Distributed ledger technology has made it easy to transparently conduct governance and organizational management tasks, such as communicating with respective parties, campaigning, conducting polls and votes, and automating governmental functions.
These functions could extend to the non-governmental world, such as creating open companies like Colony.
When Wal-Mart faced a recall of its papayas last year, it took weeks to track the salmonella outbreak to a deficient supplier from Mexico. The outbreak killed one and sickened 46. This was complicated by the fact that this was not Wal-Mart’s only supply chain problem. Wal-Mart was facing significant problems in China, where its purchasing of duck meat from local suppliers ran afoul of Chinese officials.
In an attempt to resolve its supply chain problems, Wal-Mart worked with IBM to develop a blockchain for its live food supply chain. Now, Wal-Mart only need to enter the identifier for a particular item and can see its history from supplier to customer on a single page. This would save the time needed to juggle invoices and make calls – all of which could mean a faster response to a foodborne illness outbreak.
A properly-managed blockchain supply chain would not only save time and reduce waste, but can help prevent data alterations and potential fraud. As a transparent ledger, a blockchain supply chain can be monitored by all parties, to ensure that deliveries are correct and error-free and were delivered on time.
Ride Share and Gig Economy
Imagine this: you and your neighbors decide to create a car-sharing program. Neighbors can go onto a website, see what cars are available, and sign up to use a car for a predetermined amount of time. Under normal situations, managing such a service would require a dedicated manager, who may prefer his friends to get the best cars.
A blockchain can make it easy to manage such a service. By designing a smart contract, the car inventory, schedule, and return status can be recorded automatically. Better, the reputation of each neighbor can be measured, so a neighbor that regularly trash the cars would be automatically denied.
A sharing app based on blockchain can, in effect, work like a vending machine: no one needs to monitor it constantly; the transactions are one-on-one; and if the smart contract can self-deposit revenue, it can act without oversight virtually forever. This represents a trustless way to share an asset without having to worry about politics.