Blockchain is a fastest growing revolutionary technology that has been disrupting the financial world and now different areas of society, as developers and tech entrepreneurs realise that it can be used almost in everything.
Some say it is the so much needed innovation for the coming age of the Internet of Everything (IoE) as it has the potential to become the structural ledger of everything. Various authors such as Don Tapscott with his new book The Blockchain Revolution and others argue that the blockchain will be shaping the next era of prosperity—in finance, business, healthcare, education, governance, tech and beyond. Blockchain opportunities are so significant that it’s a question of when, not if, these applications will emerge.
In this article we cover a few of the possible applications / areas / sectors of Blockchain:
- Finance / Banking / Insurance/Fintech related products- Payments
- Government / Corporate Government
- IoE / IOT
- Digital Identity
- Cyber security / Censorship
- Media / Entertainment
- Verified Data
1.Finance / Banking / Insurance/Fintech related products- Payme
The biggest use of Blockchain for now is in the 360 degrees Fintech industry at large. As Finance and technology becomes a powerful liaison more and more companies both startups and big corporations are using Blockchain to serve as a basis for operations.
Financial institutions, are now considering how the technology underpinning digital currency – commonly called ‘the blockchain’ or ‘blockchain’ – could in itself revolutionise finance.
Key players working with finance are becoming aware of the potential of blockchain. Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers said at the Consensus 2016 event in midtown Manhattan:
“I’m reasonably confident … that the blockchain will change a great deal of financial practice and exchange.” He forecasted the future of finance:
“40 years from now, blockchain and all that follows from it will figure more prominently in that story than will bitcoin.”
Summers referred to blockchain technology’s ability to reduce inefficient frictions during asset transfers, but he sounded a much less confident note about the cryptocurrency for which it was originally invented.
Payments is a special industry / sector that is betting big in Blockchain due to the multiple possibilities that Blockchain offers for payment transferences, infrastructure, and global reach platform.
A very recent development in payments using bitcoin is happening in mobile money. BitPesa, a Nairobi based start-up focusing on bitcoin remittances, raised over $1 million earlier this year.
An important aspect of payments using blockchain are micropayments. ChangeCoin is a company (that was recently bought in 2016 by Airbnb) that uses the Blockchain protocol in order to process micropayments. The micropayment system that ChangeCoin has created, which is called ChangeTip, allows people to make very small payments online.
An example is when you are reading an article but in order to see more of it and continue reading you have to pay a small fee to the company that produced the content. Micropayments allows the reader to be able to do this, rather than setting up a subscription. Another example of the potential applications of this technology is a customer just paying for the data that they use at a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Blockchain has the potential to impact the legal world in a very revolutionary way. With smart contracts, anyone can start doing business operation directly and without 3d parties. The challenge is how to regulate this with the right compliance overview and avoiding eventual money laundry issues and illegal ways to escape to taxes and other criminal usages.
Smart applications software programs that live on the blockchain and execute without the possibility of third-party interference legal and compliance, will be critical areas for Blockchain. Examples of some companies/organisations working with smart contracts are RootStock or Tierion, who is a pioneer of the verifiable data category.
Some of the practical smart contract / use cases include :
- Creating a verifiable audit trail of insurance claims.
- Creating an audit trail and legal footprint for healthcare processes and patient data.
- Track the record purchasing approvals of goods and services in platforms and CRM such as Salesforce.com.
- Archive contracts for Slack communication, creating a verifiable track record of a company’s online conversations. This is particular powerful for regulated industries such as finance and healthcare.
3. Government / Corporate Government
Governments around the world are seeing the multiple opportunities to simplify their operations and data processing. This is a powerful way for governments to get their different organisations having one simple flow of data and infrastructure. The challenge is the present infrastructure not prepared to manage this and advance as fast as the tech world is going. Moreover Blockchain disrupts potentially central banks and other local, national institutions therefore a lot of work is necessary to align efforts.
Health is a sector that can benefit immensely from blockchain technology. Melanie Swan (2015) gives various examples of ideas on how health could be revolutionised using bitcoin. For example, apps could be built on infectious disease tracking sites like Healthmap and FluTrackers to include a Bitcoin donation functionality. Blockchain could be used for efficient, immediate, targeted delivery of aid funds for supplies in the case of crises like Ebola and other contagious disease breakouts.
Another example is The Genomic Data Commons. The GDC was established by the University of Chicago in partnership with the NCI, to assemble a gigantic database to focus on genomic research and personalised medicine. The potential of the GDC is fantastic, but accessing it is limited to just certain groups of people. Swan proposes that if one appcoin like Genomecoin would be created, it would enable larger groups of people accessing it, such as any individual worldwide. Further, the appcoin could be the tracking, coordination, crediting, and remunerative mechanism sponsoring collaboration in the Genome Data Commons community.
DNA.bits is an Israeli organization that applies Fin-Tech innovation (Bitcoin and Block-Chain platform) to solve the need for large sets of clinical data and correlated genetic samples. Our solutions utilize the power of block chain cryptography to enable tagging, tracking and cross-referencing health-related data in secure, authenticated and anonymous way.
5. IoE / IOT
An area where Blockchain seems to be consensual is within the large spectre of interconnected devices and sensors that constitute the Internet of Everything. Here most of the global tech and corporations players are already using Blockchain technology to get a global infrastructure that highlights data and connectivity to be circulating and flowing.
Most of the ones living in western countries, aren’t aware how identity is a major problem in our world. Maybe we became a bit more conscious of the importance of proper identification with the heightening of the refugee crisis that led millions upon millions of refugees to flee their homes becoming undocumented. Statistics for the year of 2016 speaks of 232 million undocumented migrants. Recently various NGOS have tried to find innovative solutions to solve the identity issues happening in the digital age.
BitNation is an example of an organization pushing forth the boundaries of autonomous governance and identity services. The organization claims for a governance 2.0: What it means is that it seeks to provide people with the same services traditional governments provides, from dispute resolution and insurance to security and much more – but in a geographically unbound, decentralized, and voluntary way. Bitnation uses the Bitcoin 2.0 blockchain technology. Besides offering its users the possibility of forging a world citizenship ID, they have recently created a project called Refugee Emergency Response (BRER), to help solve refugee identity crisis in Europe via the blockchain. Bitnation believes that BRER can help fleeing Syrians get identification easily as a basic global right.
Another company working with identity is Onename. According to the company’s founder, Onename can help solve the identity issue as well through its blockchain-based identification protocol. Onename usernames are created within an open namespace and user data is embedded directly into the blockchain.
7. Cyber security / Censorship
The use of Blockchain to improve Cybersecurity is something that is now being discussed and put together as the next structural axis for the new infrastructure of the coming global internet.
Censorship is another area critical as well. Blockchain could challenge profoundly censorship, as it enables the development of Distributed Censorship-Resistant Organizational Models. Addressing censorship, Melanie Swan describes 3 categories of applications of blockchain: blochain 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0. Thus Blockchain 3.0 leads us to “the next category of application beyond currency and market transactions.
“Through its global decentralized nature, blockchain technology has the potential ability to circumvent the current limitations of geographic jurisdictions. There is an argument that blockchain technology can more equitably address issues related to freedom, jurisdiction, censorship, and regulation, perhaps in ways that nation-state models and international diplomacy efforts regarding human rights cannot.”
This is provided by the blockchain’s immutable public record, transparency, access, and reach. Blockchain has the potential to let anyone in the world research the activities of transnational organizations. Blockchain can thus become a global system of checks and balances that creates trust among all parties. This is precisely the sort of core infrastructural element that could allow humanity to scale to orders-of magnitude larger progress with truly global organizations and coordination mechanisms.
One example working to prevent Internet censorship is Namecoin. Namecoin is an altcoin that can be used to verify Domain Name System (DNS) registrations.
With namecoin one gets an alternative DNS that is transnational and cannot be controlled by any government or corporation. The benefit of a decentralized DNS is that it makes it possible for anyone worldwide who might be otherwise suppressed or censored to publish information freely in the Internet. Namecoin can be used to:
- Protect free-speech rights online by making the web more resistant to censorship.
- Access websites using the .bit domain (with TLS/SSL).
- Store identity information such as email, GPG key, BTC address, TLS fingerprints,
- Bitmessage address, etc.
- Human readable Tor .onion names/domains.
- File signatures, Voting, bonds/stocks,/shares, web of trust, escrow and notary services (to be implemented).
Blockchain is getting big in media and entertainment as authors and artists start to envision its potential as a way to connect directly with their audiences without intermediaries. With blockchain, creatives have the opportunity to relate with their audiences in various ways. The opportunities are multiple and comprehend content payment, rights licensing and many other areas.
Take the case of the music industry. A blockchain could be used to store a cryptographic ‘has of the original digital music file, associating it with the addresses and identities of the people involved in its creation. The blockchain could also store the instructions, in the form of a smart contract, for how the artists would be compensated for the song or music.
Imogen Heap is an artist who released the song Tiny Human, using the blockchain.
Another example is Ascribe, a startup using blockchain technology and machine learning, that makes sure that artists and content producers are being paid fees for the use of theoir iomte;;ectual property. Ascribe lets you lock in attribution, securely share and trace where your digital work spreads
Blockchain could as such help with copyright theft and illegal file-sharing, plus giving artists the ability to manage their intellectual property ensuring that the way their content is used and paid for is controlled.
9. Verified Data
Data is a critical element of the Blockchain technology as with its operations the user or company has a control of its data and can use the operations to verify data sources and sign up in flows of information and relations. Therefore big data and blockchain are already being united in many ways as a way to establish veryfication and credibility of data sources.
The fast growing Ethereum ecosystem is probably the most powerful global platform using Blockchain. Ethereum is a global decentralised multiple usage platform for applications that run on a custom built blockchain. This enormously powerful shared global platform has been using Blockchain in its DNA and has been growing as a swiss knife for digital applications and even digital currencies.
In this article, we reviewed some of the possible application of the blockchain technology, to the physical world and we covered various types of organization working with bitcoin.
We conclude with a heartwarming example: Sean’s Outpost, perhaps the world’s best-known Bitcoin-accepting charity run by Jason King, first started accepting Bitcoin in March 2013, carrying a simple message:
“When we break down cost, it runs about $1.25 to make a bagged lunch and get it delivered to a homeless person. 40 meals = $50. $50 is K1 BTC. Here is your chance to make a guaranteed, phenomenal return on your investment. Donating 1 bitcoin right now will put food in the tummies of 40 homeless people.”
Four days later, Sean’s Outpost had raised over over $600, and over the months that followed Sean’s Outpost and the Bitcoin community developed a symbiosis closer than either had thought would happen.
Sean’s Outpost is now the largest provider of meals to the homeless in Escambia County Florida, having in 2013 bought nine acres of wooded land that will now become, as Jason King describes it the charity’s leader “a homeless sanctuary.” namede after the inventor of bitcoin: Satoshi Forest.