THE NEED FOR BLOCKCHAIN
In my last article, I spoke about the Blockchain, how it works and its benefits and a lot of you might be wondering how this potentially game-changing technology can be applied or used in the real world. Well, here are some potential uses of the blockchain.
· Real estate, land, and auto title transfers One of the primary goals of blockchain is to take out paper trails since they are often a source of confusion. For example, when buying or selling land or house, you'll need to transfer or receive a title. Instead of handling this on paper, blockchain can store titles on its network, allowing for a transparent view of this transfer, as well as presenting a crystal-clear picture of legal ownership.
· Immutable data backup A perfect way to back up data is through the blockchain. Even though cloud storage systems are designed to be a go-to source for data safekeeping, they're not immune to hackers, or even infrastructural problems. Using blockchain as a backup source for cloud data centers or for any data, as Boeing is considering with GPS receivers on its planes -- could resolve this concern.
· Medical record-keeping For years now, the medical sector has been moving away from paper for record-keeping purposes. However, blockchain offers even more safety and convenience. In addition to storing patient records, the patient, who possesses the key to access these digital records, would be in control of who gains access to that data. It would be a means of strengthening the HIPAA laws that are designed to protect patient privacy.
· Wills or inheritances Rather than creating a paper will, blockchain has made it possible for people to have the option of creating and storing their digital will on the network. When used with smart contracts, which could divvy out inheritances based on when certain criteria are met (such as when a grandchild reaches a certain age), wills should become crystal clear and legally binding, leaving no questions as to who should receive what assets when you pass away.
· Payment processing and money transfer
The most logical use of blockchain is to expedite the transfer of funds from one party to another. As noted, with banks removed from the equation, and validation of transactions ongoing 24 hours a day, seven days a week, most transactions processed over a blockchain can be settled within a matter of time
· Supply chain tracking: Most of the companies in the world have ERP and supply chain management software yet, there are limited visibility and details about the whereabouts of a product at any given moment. Blockchain can ease the tracking of items across the global supply chain. The product can be tracked at every stage creating the record of the location, who handled it and when. It can also record details like temperature, internal pressure at each point to help retailers be assured of product safety. This could possibly solve the problem of lost or damaged products in the shipment and increase accountability at each point. Due to an accurate, specific and immutable nature, retailers can resolve issues easily. Merck is currently testing such a system for prescription drug returns.
· Weapons tracking: One of the hot-button topics on any news network at the moment is gun control and/or weapons accountability. Blockchain could create a transparent and unchanging registry network that allows law enforcement and the federal government to track gun or weapon ownership, as well as keep a record of weapons sold privately.
· Equity trading: At some point, blockchain could rival or replace current equity trading platforms to buy or sell stocks. Because blockchain networks validate and settle transactions so quickly, it could eliminate the excess days/time investors have to wait when selling stock(s) and seeking access to their funds for the purpose of reinvestment or withdrawal.
· Food safety: Another fascinating use of the blockchain is in tracing food from its origin to your plate. Since blockchain data is immutable, it allows you to trace the transport of food products from their origin to the supermarket. Also, food products could be called-back should there be a food-borne illness because blockchain would allow the source of the contaminant to be found considerably quicker than it can be now. Walmart is working with IBM on a food safety blockchain solution so as to enhance the transparency of products information, ensures the authenticity of product data and boost the trust of their consumers.
· Securing access to belongings: Smart contracts within blockchain networks also have the ability to be customized to businesses or consumers' needs. As a consumer, you could use blockchain as a means to grant access to your house for service technicians, or allow your mechanic access to your car to perform repairs. But without this digital key, that only you possess, these service technicians wouldn't be able to gain access to your belongings.
· Retail loyalty rewards programs: Blockchain could further revolutionize the retail experience by becoming the go-to for loyalty rewards. By creating a token-based system that rewards consumers, and storing these tokens within a blockchain, it would give consumers incentive to return to a certain store or chain to do their shopping. It would also eliminate the fraud and waste commonly associated with paper- and card-based loyalty rewards programs.
· Workers' rights: Another intriguing use of the blockchain is to boost the rights of workers worldwide. A good example of a simple effective application of the blockchain technology is creating secure registries for workers that can help prevent labor rights violations and forced labor. According to the International Labour Organization, 25 million people worldwide work in forced-labor conditions. Coca-Cola, along with the U.S. State Department and two other companies are working on a blockchain registry complete with smart contracts (protocols that verify, facilitate, or enforce a contract) to improve labor policies, enable workers to battle against forced labor and coerce employers worldwide.
· Copyright and royalty protection: In a world with growing internet access, copyright and ownership laws on music and other content have grown hazy. With blockchain, those copyright laws would be more effective considerably for digital content downloads, ensuring the artist or creator of the content being purchased gets their equitable share. The blockchain would also provide real-time and transparent royalty distribution data to musicians and content creators.
· Digital voting: We all know the difficulties that come with voting. Well, worry no more because blockchain offers the ability to vote digitally and it is transparent enough that any regulators would be able to see if something was changed on the network. It combines the ease of digital voting with the immutability (i.e., unchanging nature) of blockchain to make your vote truly count.
Clearly, this amazing gaming-changing technology has so many other uses but it’s still in its infant stage and has a long way to go before it can be considered even close to mainstream. Yet, the Blockchain shows how useful it would be to everyone and, as the technology matures, we can expect to see even more people (individuals, organization, government and so on) using and investing in it.