Blockchain, one of the most disruptive technologies, has been with us for more than a decade. It offers a digital decentralized ledger that duplicates and distributes transactions across a network of computer systems. While the technology is mostly associated with cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, it is lately finding applications across a vast range of sectors. From commerce to agriculture to healthcare, blockchain is revolutionizing operations. But what precisely does it do and how will it transform our lives? In this article, we will discuss how this technological innovation is making a difference.
Streamlining financial services is the most well-known use of blockchain. The technology aims to eliminate the centralization of transactions by banks through the use of Bitcoin and other digital currencies. Usually, with fiat money, banks control the ledger. However, with cryptocurrencies, users maintain their own ledger with all copies of the ledger being synchronized through the Blockchain system. Since its launch in 2009, Bitcoin has become more mainstream with big retailers and financial institutions accepting it. This has benefited many users since the crypto allows them to facilitate peer-to-peer financial transactions faster, and more efficiently.
Despite the digitalization of many aspects of today’s life, elections are still done largely on paper. This has led to inefficiencies that could be solved by blockchain-assisted online voting. Typically, in normal elections, votes are counted, recorded, checked and managed by a central authority. However, with blockchain, voters would be able to perform all these tasks themselves whenever and wherever they are. Furthermore, cases of vote manipulation will be reduced as the technology uses smart contracts, making the whole process secure, reliable and transparent. Needless to say, the voter turnout will be greater as the voting will happen entirely online.
For a long time, healthcare providers have faced hurdles as regards the digital exchange and storage of patient records. Some of the challenges include records inaccessibility, privacy issues and lack of functionality of shared information. With blockchain technology, such obstacles can be reduced to acceptable levels or eliminated entirely. Firstly, a decentralized database allows healthcare providers and patients to access information anywhere and at any time. Secondly, it allows better incorporation of security measures, making privacy issues easier to address. Lastly, blockchain technology eliminates the need for intermediaries. This can consequently reduce errors while simultaneously offering increased levels of trust and transparency.
Blockchain will allow people to claim and own full ownership of their digital data through the use of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The industry that is likely to benefit from this is the music sector where protection of artists’ rights is the main consideration. By allowing listeners to access songs and pay for them directly with cryptocurrency, blockchain will eliminate piracy. This means distributors and labels will be bypassed hence only the right people, namely musicians will get full payment for their hard work. Currently, various blueprints are being tested in a decentralized ledger to make this dream a reality.
For consumers, it’s only when a food-borne outbreak happens that we investigate the food production process. Mostly, it’s the role of food suppliers to maintain records of the whole process to ensure there’s no threat to food safety. However, this sometimes faces many challenges. However, with the rise of blockchain apps, the future looks good. For example, the Ripe.io app collects data including origin, shelf life and trade history of various food items. This data can then be used by consumers and health officials to track the supply chain and identify any weak link that may cause an outbreak.
Blockchain will also affect the energy sector. Typically, today’s power grids are centralized oligopolies that depend on few power sources. This means bad demand management, power outages and long distribution lines are the order of the day. With a blockchain peer-to-peer energy system, the need to distribute electricity over long distances will be reduced. Technology will also allow people to produce electricity from wind turbines, solar panels and other smart materials. Now imagine if this energy could be traded on the blockchain system. Anyone would be able to sell excess electricity to their neighbours, hence reducing the dominance by energy utility companies.
Historically, the insurance services sector has been slow to adopt and embrace new and more efficient processes. Blockchain has the power to cause disruption in this sector in different ways. Firstly, it will help in automating payment of claims through the verification of details between companies and reinsurers. Secondly, it will help in the transmission of digital evidence for purposes of underwriting, including electronic health records. Thirdly, the use of smart contracts in blockchain accounts will make transactions secure and fast. That said, we also anticipate a future where applications for new life insurance covers will be submitted through blockchain.
Travel is often filled with inconveniences, from lost luggage to long queues. However, with the coming of blockchain technology, services in the travel sector will be greatly streamlined. The innovation will drastically reduce booking errors and securely store travellers’ booking transactions. In addition, since blockchain eliminates the intermediaries in transactions, passengers’ sensitive identification data will always be safe. And when it comes to tracking of luggage, technology will do this more efficiently. This means you’ll be able to relax at the airport’s waiting lounge stress-free, as you play games at your favourite online casino.
Although blockchain is still new and many of its applications might fail before succeeding, the possibilities are endless. In fact, there are some experts who think that technology isn’t enough to change how we do things in this world. Nevertheless, recent findings have revealed that it will be successful in doing so. The aforementioned are some of the ways through which blockchain will change our lives. Still, we have just scratched the surface regarding its potential. Other sectors that will benefit in the near future include retail, consulting, real estate, forecasting and education.
Founder Dinis Guarda
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