Bitcoin and other popular cryptocurrencies may be getting all the headlines, but it is blockchain technology that makes these alternative forms of payment so valuable. The blockchain concept promises secure payments, private transactions, and easy traceability, something that other types of payment simply cannot provide.
Those are compelling benefits, but the value of blockchain goes far beyond payment facilitation. Experts predict that blockchain technology could be used for everything from securing election data from hackers to helping manufacturers manage their supply chains more efficiently.
Some of these benefits are yet to be realized, but others are already happening. In the real-world, the blockchain is already making a significant difference, changing industries, securing systems, and making users and transactions more secure. Here are some of the real-world use cases that blockchains are already providing.
Managing Identity in the Digital World
The beauty, and the danger, of the digital world, is the ability to share information across national borders, time zones, and political affiliations. Social media sites allow users to connect with their old school chums, professional networking sites let job seekers get a sneak peek at would-be employers before applying, and photo sharing sites let people share their favorite moments with family and friends.
Unfortunately, that sharing of personal information can have a dark side, as the recent spate of hacks and data breaches has proved. Blockchain technology is already providing users with more secure digital interactions by limiting the amount of information they need to share.
The unique nature of the blockchain provides users with a secure way to manage their identity in the digital space. As a result, those users can avoid exposing their valuable personal information, all without interfering with the things they want to do.
Identity Management Case Study – SelfKey
SelfKey is a blockchain-based identity management solution. Founded by Edmund Lowell in 2018, SelfKey aims to protect users self-sovereign identity while they transact online.
As we’ve discussed, hacks and data breaches have led to serious misuse or abuse of personal data. Instead, SelfKey empowers users to maintain control of their identity documents and information at all times, by storing their personal details in a blockchain identity wallet which only they have the private key to access.
With SelfKey, many different services can be accessed, such as KYC or AML on an exchange, just by unlocking your identity wallet with your private key – removing the need to upload pictures of identity documents to centralized servers and mitigating the associated risks.
You can read our exclusive interview with SelfKey here.
Better Data Management
Data management within organizations has always been a challenging endeavor, but the blockchain is making it easier. The distributed nature of blockchain is changing the way information is collected and used within organizations, freeing up resources, lowering costs, and giving individual employers more freedom and flexibility.
In the world of the blockchain, it is less about managing databases and more about maintaining a system of record. This shift can provide greater stability, enhanced security, and a host of other benefits for businesses of all sizes.
Data Management Case Study – Storj
Storj isn’t your typical cloud storage provider. Instead, Storj leverage the power of blockchain to offer enterprise-grade decentralized storage at a fraction of the cost of traditional operators.
The Storj network features storage node operators, who use excess physical storage in their machines to distribute and share with users in the cloud. Storj aims to become the ‘Airbnb’ of cloud storage.
You can read our exclusive interview with Storj here.
While cryptocurrency fans tout anonymity and freedom from governmental regulation, many governments are exploring the ways blockchain technology can aid in vital regulation. For instance, governments are looking into how blockchain technology can provide transactional authorization for things like stock market trades, regulatory compliance, and even voting.
In fact, voting security is a significant area of research for blockchain proponents. After the difficulties encountered in the 2016 presidential election, some government officials are exploring the power of the blockchain to protect against hacking attempts and safeguard voter data going forward. This remains an area of intense research, and blockchain-enabled voting systems could be coming on the market sooner rather than later.
The blockchain concept has the power to disrupt the entire financial industry, from the way banks and credit cards are used to the way in which payments are settled. Blockchain could change the security of banks and other financial institutions, helping them protect their depositors from hackers and other bad actors.
By using blockchain technology, banks could automatically create a secure record of which users have accessed which financial records. This could potentially catch the bad guys in their tracks and put an end to hacking and bank fraud.
Financial Case Study – TradeCloud
TradeCloud uses blockchain technology to bring the physical commodities markets on-chain. By utilizing a state-of-the-art communications platform, TradeCloud is creating the ‘Commodities Web,’ a network of services to connect commodities trading platforms.
The inefficient processes in the traditional financial markets, alongside antiquated pricing methods, have created a unique and powerful use case for blockchain technology. For example, as high-value trades happen, frequently cross borders, contracts for commodities sales can result in a lengthy audit trail, with many separate legal teams pitching in – a confusing process.
Instead, with services such as TradeCloud, this information can be uploaded and stored immutably on the blockchain – an unalterable version of all past transactions for that commodity.
You can read our exclusive interview with TradeCloud here.
The Security of Health Records
Privacy and security are important concepts, but nowhere are they more critical than in the world of healthcare. From hospital records to insurance billing, patients, doctors, and institutions all have a vested interest in keeping data safe and secure.
The security of patient data and billing information has been a weak spot up till now, but blockchain technology promises to change all that. By creating a complete record of every customer, client, and patient transaction, blockchain can make hack attempts more difficult and less successful, and that is good news for the entire healthcare industry.
Health Record Custodianship Case Study – SolveCare
Solve.care, a Ukrainian blockchain start-up founded in 2017, stores patient and healthcare data via distributed ledger technology. Solve.care provides a unified interface and administrative platform which allows healthcare providers to store, share, and protect user’s healthcare records.
Likewise, each patient has self-sovereign access to their clinical data, which for the first time allows patients to decide who has access to their data – even allowing patients to share their health data with selected clinical trials for extra income.
You can read our exclusive interview with Solve.care here.
Up till now, many ordinary people have been baffled by the enormous run-up in the price of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. As they watched the prices go higher and higher, they wondered what was behind it all. Many marveled at how something which does not physically exist could be worth so much, and why intelligent and informed investors were willing to pay so much for seemingly so little.
In the end, it may be the blockchain concept, and not Bitcoin itself, that turns out to be most valuable. Even if Bitcoin never becomes a currency on par with the U.S. Dollar or the British Pound, the underlying blockchain is already starting to provide a host of benefits to businesses, financial institutions, and governments around the world. The real-world examples listed above are just the tip of the iceberg, and there are many more blockchain-enabled benefits still to come.