Reid Hoffman, Co-Founder & Executive Chairman of LinkedIn said: “It looks like blockchain is here to stay, I think it’s going to be a powerful technology for modern society.” His words sum up the thoughts of many who have seen the possibilities blockchain has to offer.
Blockchain technology was introduced, along with Bitcoin, to the world in 2009. Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin’s creator, intended to make finance faster and more transparent. Blockchains have done that and much more.
Unfortunately, blockchain technology is still seen as a byproduct of cryptocurrency. There are several applications of the technology and endless possibilities for it. How is blockchain changing the world? What could the future bring?
How Blockchain Is Changing The World
The world has warmed up to blockchain technology and it has had significant impacts in various sectors of industry. Digital assets are starting a financial and social revolution. According to Deloitte, almost 76% of finance executives expect digital assets to be an alternative to fiat currencies in 5-10 years.
Here are some of the impacts of the blockchain:
Traditional banking has been central to finance until recently. Banks have acted as middlemen in almost all forms of financial transactions. But the costs of having trusted middlemen have been high transaction costs, slow transactions and low security.
Decentralized Finance (DeFi) is an umbrella term for applications that perform financial activities on blockchains. DeFi platforms eliminate middlemen and provide direct links through smart contracts, between the two parties involved during transactions; making DeFi faster, cheaper, and more secure.
Decentralized Apps (dApps) are applications that have various uses. They can be games, online marketplaces, or forums.
Unlike regular applications, dApps are decentralized which means they are not controlled by a single entity. Because of this, most free speech proponents believe dApps are the best mediums for activism.
DApps are also built on blockchains. Most are built on Ethereum.
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs)
Digital ownership and art have taken a positive turn with the emergence of NFTs. It started as a trend with the release of Cryptopunks by Larva Labs but has grown to be more functional. NFTs have become a strong revenue source in the sports and gaming sectors.
Non-fungible tokens are digital files (audio, video, pictures, and even tweets) that are unique and cannot be replaced. This means for any copy of the file, there can be only one version of it. NFTs are traded over a blockchain so each copy can be tracked as it changes hands.
NFTs are in a prime position to begin an arts revolution. Besides offering revenues, an NFT also gives its owner better ownership rights than physical art would. The blockchain ensures that only the owner can trade it.
Arguably the biggest use case of blockchains, cryptocurrency has made a visible mark on the financial sphere. Thousands of cryptos have emerged since Bitcoin and the crypto market is perhaps the most active financial market.
But there are still more things that crypto could do. These possibilities would be unlocked by the adoption of cryptocurrency by world governments.
El Salvador took the first bold step by adopting Bitcoin as its legal tender. Other countries have taken steps to recognize cryptocurrencies. A worldwide acceptance of cryptocurrency would have many benefits.
The ease of transactions is excellent. With no intermediaries and centralized networks, the speed of transactions could triple. We will also see the inclusion of people living in remote areas with banking facilities. Also, international trade will face fewer hindrances.
A lot of attention is paid to individual identities on the Internet by companies that need them and other Internet users. To prove our identity, we use passwords and other forms of authentication. The processes for all these can be made simpler with a private key.
A private key is a string of random characters assigned to blockchain users. It is impossible to hack and is unique to each user.
Instead of giving out personal information that could be guessed or stolen, a private key can use. It is more reliable; your identity can never be accessed without your private key.
Real estate housing
It takes 45 days for a bank to complete the Know Your Customer (KYC) process for a potential homeowner. The challenge of proving identities can be solved through blockchains.
Using smart contracts, the process can be automated which makes it faster. The self-executing contracts would trace a customers’ data on the blockchain and use it to perform the task.
Other tasks like granting loans and mortgages can be coded into the contracts which would then self-execute when certain conditions are met.
The global market size of blockchain technology in healthcare is predicted to grow at a rate of 63% from 2019 to 2028. It is expected to reach $231 million by 2022. Therefore, there is no doubt the crypto technology would impact it significantly.
Having verified digital identities on blockchains would lead to quicker diagnosis. The exchange of data between health providers would reduce redundancy whilst protecting the privacy of patients.
Blockchains can also be used to monitor the supply chain of drugs and medical equipment. Drug safety and counterfeit tracking are also important applications.
The transport sector is not excluded from the reach of blockchain technology. The technology can be used with the Internet of Things to monitor environment-sensitive goods.
A tweet from DB Shenkar announced their partnership with SkyCell:
The partnership will see DB Shenkar using SkyCell’s refrigerated containers for their products. SkyCell used IoT and blockchain technology to monitor temperature-sensitive biopharmaceuticals.
Blockchains can also be used for a variety of tasks such as fleet tracking, customs clearance, approval requests, etc
Instead of going to queue at polling units, or sending mail-in ballots, vote-casting can be done through a blockchain.
The blockchain can keep records of votes cast and the identities of voters. These records cannot be changed or tampered with. With blockchain technology, voting would be easier, faster, and more secure – remote voting is also a bonus.
The future of blockchains is bright. There are so many possibilities and potentials yet untapped; faster money transfers and crypto-based economies are interesting prospects. With the rapid spread of technology in almost every industry, the future might be closer than we think.