The term “blockchain” has become a common term in the tech, finance, and investment communities. It is best known for being the backbone behind bitcoin. However, blockchain need not only be associated with a monetary unit – its future has the potential to be the game changer technology in business automation. As the understanding and usage of blockchain technology has evolved and the focus has shifted from controversies associated with virtual currencies, it has become clear that blockchain’s impact will be evolutionary to many industries.
Let us look at what is versus what could be…. Currently, storing, sharing and disseminating data and information always poses a risk. Every interaction that each individual person does online relies on some sort of trusted CENTRALIZED authority and no matter what action is being completed online; you are putting your trust in a centralized source who we deem reliable and trustworthy.
Now let us leap forward to blockchain. Blockchain is defined as digital information aka the “block” stored in a public distributable database aka the “chain.” In a nutshell, blockchain removes the centralized authority and creates a shared public society ultimately preventing bad actors from hacking, manipulating, or breaching one’s sensitive data because the data is spread over hundreds of thousands of computers around the world.
As 2019 progresses, we have seen major drops in the value of blockchain’s initial use, Bitcoin. Despite these failures, big players including IBM and Walmart are continuing to push through the drawback, confident that blockchain can provide real value for organizations in need of innovative solutions around record keeping and secure recording transactions.
Let’s speculate for a moment where blockchain could be applicable.
Distributed Cloud Storage
- Blockchain data storage will become a massive disruptor within the next 3-5 years. Current cloud storage services are centralized. Users must place trust in a single storage provider. “Central authority” controls all of your online assets. On the other hand, with blockchain technology, this can become decentralized. For instance, STORJ (a global community of developers, storage node operators, and decentralization enthusiasts.) STORJ uses a blockchain-powered network to improve security and decrease dependency. Additionally, users (you) can rent out their excess storage capacity, Airbnb-style, creating new niche marketplaces.
- Imagine never having to worry about your digital security every again. Cyber attacks have become a massive problem throughout the world with bad actors constantly deploying new tactics each and every day. Cyber mayhem will continue to rise, and according to Juniper Research, a leading market analysts, the continued rise will cost the industry about $2.1 trillion globally by end of 2019, almost four times more than the estimated cost of breaches in 2015.
- That means for every $3 spent, $1 is going to ad fraud. Blockchain technology makes tracking and managing digital identities both secure and efficient, resulting in seamless sign-on and reduced fraud.
Remember what happened with Target?
- The data breach at Target was significantly broader than originally reported: The Company said that 40 million customers had information such as their name, address, phone number and e-mail address hacked in the breach, when in fact 70 million customers were actually hacked.
- Events such as hacked databases and breached accounts are shining the light on the growing problems of a technologically advanced society, without outpaced identity-based security innovations.
Healthcare Data Reconciliation
- The ongoing trends of innovation and more personalized tech will help spur a healthcare-focused blockchain atmosphere centered on health data exchanges, smart assets management, insurance and payment solutions, and eventually AI, machine learning, and IoT.
- By using blockchain, healthcare providers can change the way they share data. Blockchain brings identification, chronology and integrity to transactions. The distributed and decentralized network is transparent to all users and uses a mathematic set of rules, creating a permanent record of events and replicating the network history in-full.
- Hospitals can experience improved security, transparency and efficiency through blockchain networks. Blockchain technology is designed to be a transactional log or event log of transactions that have occurred. Putting medical records on the blockchain or processing claims on the blockchain could be viable and worth exploring, but it’s important to view blockchain as a catalog or index of available information.”
- The Health Care industry has considered blockchain a major turning point in regards to privacy issues yet, a common misconception about blockchain is users put information into the ledger itself. However, by doing this, users jeopardize privacy and security. If a blockchain ledger is designed to contain all the data, it limits what information you can put into it, as everyone has an equal and transparent view of the blockchain.
- Leaders of provider organizations may want to consider not putting patient medical records on a blockchain that’s available to the entire organization.
- Consensus enables the successful application of blockchain technology. The majority of nodes on the blockchain must approve a transaction. And as the transaction moves between the provider, processor, payer and consumer, each party is notified when a step is completed. Blockchain maintains a real-time immutable record of the life of a transaction.
The world of smart contracts is fast approaching, but what are they?
- These are legally binding programmable digitized contracts entered on the blockchain. What developers do is to implement legal contracts as variables and statements that can release of funds using the bitcoin network as a ‘3rd party executor’, rather than trusting a single central authority. For example, if two people want to exchange $100 at a specific time in future when a set of preconditions are met, the conditions, payout, and parties’ details would be programmed into a smart contract. Once the defined conditions are met, funds would be released and sent to the appropriate party as per terms.
- By giving computers control over contracts, we can make business more efficient and make the legal system more equitable. These computers will eventually become proficient in handling these contracts to the point that they can facilitate the release of funds rather than waiting on behalf of an individual.
- The greatest barrier to getting electoral processes online, according to its detractors, is security. Using the blockchain, a voter could check that her or his vote was successfully transmitted while remaining anonymous to the rest of the world. In 2014, Liberal Alliance, a political party in Denmark, became the first organization to use blockchain to vote. With American voter turnout still shockingly low, distributed digital voting may represent a way to enfranchise non-participants.
Be it banking, healthcare, national security, citizenship documentation or online retailing, identity authentication and authorization is a process intricately woven into commerce and culture worldwide. In this day and age a technology unraveling before our eyes like the potential of all blockchain applications provides a tremendous opportunity for innovation and entrepreneurship. The next couples of years will be all about experimenting and applying it to all aspects of society, regardless of which application comes first on a global scale.