A blockchain is simply a distributed ledger that can store any data – transaction history, ownership records, smart contract details, etc. One might say that any conventional record would be appropriate to store this information. But the blockchain is unique because it operates as a decentralized and immutable store of information.
Instead of a single central server holding these records, identical copies of the blockchain database are stored over a network of computers called nodes. And the possibilities this unlocks for a trustless system across industries, are endless.
While cryptocurrencies, NFTs, and defi based fintech applications are now the most popular blockchain applications, the technology can serve a wide range of uses across various industries.
Some Blockchain Trivia
- The name blockchain isn’t a coincidence: The digital ledger is frequently referred to as a “chain” comprising discrete “blocks” of data.
- The blockchain is both a decentralized and open ledger. The ledger is a record of the transactions made, and it is referred to as an open ledger because it can be viewed by everyone (in the case of a public blockchain). The transactions are not under the control of any entity.
- A blockchain provides a peer-to-peer system that allows transactions between two parties without needing an intermediary or any central authority or escrow arrangement to look over the same.
Impact of Blockchain on Different Industries
A Gartner estimate posits that blockchain will generate $3.1 trillion in new business value by 2030.
Today, the blockchain is most commonly used as the backbone of thousands of cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin and Ethereum. When one buys, swaps, or spends cryptocurrency, the transactions are recorded on a blockchain. The greater the number of people who use cryptocurrencies, the more widely blockchain will be used.
Blockchain technology, which started as the foundation for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, is now spreading across many industries, validating a large volume of digital transactions.
The banking sector will be more likely to be disrupted by the impact of blockchain on how online transactions are handled and managed. 80% of banking experts feel that blockchain will bring many changes in the baking industry in the next 20 years. Aside from payments, blockchain allows banks to streamline complex procedures and improve internal processes via efficient record keeping, enhancing the security and privacy of transactions via smart contracts, transparent and quick loan disbursal, etc.
Blockchain is being used in the healthcare industry to deflate the skyrocketing costs, inefficient practices, and constant data security breaches that continue to plague the industry. More accurate diagnoses, better treatments, and more cost-efficient care could result from efficient and accurate data sharing across providers via blockchain transparently and securely.
The best example of blockchain impact on healthcare is Estonia, where 95% of the health information is now being recorded on distributed ledgers, and 99% of the prescription information is digitally stored over the blockchain. Besides, numerous blockchain healthcare companies like Akiri, Factom, MedicalChain, etc., provide their services across healthcare use cases.
Considering the amount of information required to book a flight, using blockchain technology to safeguard and reconcile this data can result in a safer and more convenient experience for the traveler. When a physical ticket is converted into a digital token, a new layer of security is added. Airlines can manage the sale and use tickets by including a smart contract in the ticket token, giving customers validated experiences. It can also keep more accurate maintenance logs, minimize overbooking, and more. S7 Airlines, based in Russia, uses a private Ethereum-based blockchain and smart agreements to generate and sell tickets.
Blockchain is also being used by airlines to manage take-off and landing slots. EU-based SlotMachine Consortium has developed a DLT-powered solution that will enable airlines to swap take-off and landing slots cost-effectively and efficiently.
Many insurance companies today are using blockchain applications to increase the operational efficiency of their processes. Blockchain also helps automate claim functions and payments between parties, lowering administrative costs. Right now, the industry is looking forward to implementing blockchain to solve six major use cases, including event-triggered smart contracts, increased back-end efficiency, disintermediation, new types of insurance, better pricing and risk assessment, and reaching the underserved. (Munichre.com)
Supply Chain and Logistics
Blockchain is finding brilliant use cases in supply chain management and logistics to record the price, date, location, certification, quality, and other information for better supply management. The DLT integration can further lend traceability of materials and origin, reduce losses from the counterfeit and gray markets, enhance visibility, and compliance in outsourced manufacturing processes. Global retailers like Walmart use blockchain to track sales.
Some of the use cases of blockchain in supply chain management include cold chain monitoring, RFID-driven contracts bids, and execution, electric power micro-grids, etc.
Education and Academia
Verifying academic qualifications remains mostly manual in primary/secondary schools and universities. The use of blockchain technology in education could simplify verification procedures, reducing the number of fraudulent claims for unearned credits.
Hyland Credentials, a blockchain-based system for issuance and verification of digital credentials, bought the company in 2020. A 2019 Gartner survey revealed that 2% of the higher education institutions were using blockchain, and 18% more were planning to do so over the next two years.
Blockchain can also be used to keep student records and verify their credentials without the hassles of going through the documentation and case-by-case checking. Blockchain is also being employed in emerging use cases such as learning innovation, teaching, IT systems and services, registrar systems, digital learning technologies, the democratization of higher education, etc.
From getting into the industry to rights management to piracy, blockchain can be deployed in some breakthrough uses cases in the publishing industry. The industry is currently dominated by a select number of publishers, making it tough for new and unknown authors to break in. Authors, editors, translators, and publishers are collaborating more than ever before, thanks to new platforms that help level the playing field.
Meanwhile, Publica, based in Latvia, is leveraging smart contracts to crowdsource the book funding process. Authors can use the platform to sell tokens to raise funds for their projects before they begin — a “book ICO,” as Publica refers to.
Of course, several other industries, including real estate, mining, manufacturing, automotive, telecommunications, retail and consumer goods, media and entertainment, etc., may profit from blockchain integration. It’s almost inevitable that the above list will become even longer as more organizations open their doors to blockchain and its possibilities. One thing is certain: blockchain technology will continue to impact businesses across verticals and sectors, and its global effect will keep increasing in tandem with the technology.