9 Major & Potential Applications of Blockchain
Blockchain was invented in 2008 by Satoshi Nakamoto. Since more than a decade ago, blockchain has been attracting a lot of interest from the public, especially because of the rise in value and popularity of Bitcoin.
The major reason why Satoshi invented Blockchain was to provide a platform for Bitcoin to be mined and used; however, if we take a closer look today, it wouldn’t be wrong to assume that Satoshi used Bitcoin to introduce the world to other applications of blockchain.
After bitcoin started becoming popular, people soon realized other uses or applications of blockchain which are far beyond the domain of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.
Because blockchain provides a high level of transparency and security, and removes the need for middlemen or third parties, and saves time and money, it is greatly impacting many fields or sectors, in more efficient and inspiring ways. The following are major and potential applications of blockchain:
1. Enhance internet security
Blockchain makes it possible for peer-to-peer transactions to occur, and properties such as money and data to be transferred over the internet, between billions of connected devices or parties, and under high security without the need for a middleman, third party, or centralized authority.
Blockchain has the potential to solve internet security and scalability challenges because it consists of a distributed digital ledger that is shared between participants in its network which is housed on the internet and makes it possible for transactions or events to be validated and recorded, and not be subject to removal or amendment.
Blockchain network processes data transactions over the internet and across countless devices that are owned and operated by different people and organizations; in fact, the blockchain network can store unlimited amounts of internet data.
Because blockchain network is tamper-proof and not under the control of a single person or organization, it has an extra layer of security that hackers would need to break before gaining access to the network.
The high level of encryption used in blockchain makes it almost impossible, if not completely impossible, for hackers or cyber-criminals to hack the network and alter and remove existing data records.
2. Provide proof or evidence of legal ownership
The proof or evidence of ownership of most people’s assets is usually documented on paper. In the modern world, it’s easy to get involved in legal issues in many ways: there could be family disputes, documents could get missing as a result of fire, etc.
If legal paperwork gets missing, it could take a lot of time and effort to trace and reclaim any asset associated with such paperwork. But if transactions and titles are recorded on the blockchain network, it wouldn’t be difficult to trace and reclaim missing or stolen assets, especially as records on blockchain are known to be tamper-proof and not subject to removal or amendment.
If transactions involving portable or high-value assets are recorded on blockchain, and assets get missing or stolen, they can be easily traced and reclaimed by companies that work on providing blockchain-based services concerned with validating and recording transactions involving assets.
3. Enable payments to be made, especially without a middleman or third party
Money transfer was the first and has been one of the most popular applications of blockchain technology. Prior to October 2008 when Satoshi published his white paper, economists had been working on how to get rid of the problem of double-spending (of digital currencies) and using trusted third parties or middlemen such as banks.
When Satoshi finally came with his white paper and blockchain, it paved the way for banks to be removed from payment transactions, and enabled peer-to-peer payments which take place from anywhere between a few seconds and few minutes.
4. Provide security for identity, and allow verification of identity
We live in an age where most people have both physical and digital or online identities with credit agencies and on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram which allow people to display their digital or online identities.
But as we all know, online identities are often tampered with; this calls for a reliable digital identity system like blockchain which can maintain people’s records and online identities, and make them tamper-proof without giving hackers and private corporations loopholes to steal data and make money from selling data.
Many companies are already using blockchain technology to create a secure digital identification system that would enable people or users to control their digital identities; examples of such companies are Deloitte (which created Deloitte’s Smart Identity System) and Microsoft (which created Microsoft’s authenticator app).
5. Ensure transparency in voting
There has been a lot of voting fraud in many countries. By using blockchain technology, voting frauds would certainly be stopped and made to become an issue of the distant past: employing blockchain in digital voting would ensure that there is a high level of security and transparency in voting; in case voting results are manipulated outside the blockchain network, it would be possible to use the blockchain network to understand what was manipulated, and when and how it was manipulated.
6. Make direct or peer-to-peer energy trading possible
The blockchain network can make peer-to-peer energy distribution possible and enable people to trade energy between each other without employing the services of energy companies (third parties or middlemen). According to RenewableEnergyWorld.com, peer-to-peer energy distribution will inspire investors to put more effort into renewable energy (solar, wind, hydro) projects and gradually leave behind carbon-emitting electricity generation which is believed to be damaging the atmosphere and environment.
7. Empower artists and people in the entertainment industry
Platforms like SoundCloud, YouTube, Netflix, and Spotify, act as middlemen or third parties and often exert too much influence or power over the users and artists on their platforms, thereby causing a lot of disputes in regard users’ or artists’ content distribution, compensation, and digital rights, amongst others.
As artists are growing increasingly discontented with the actions and policies of such platforms, using blockchain network can make it possible for considerable power and influence to be transferred to users and artists since middlemen would be removed and the platforms’ users or artists will have a lot or complete control of their own encrypted records of ownership, content access, distribution, compensation, and digital rights, amongst others.
8. Enable proper healthcare record-keeping and prevention of medical theft
Two major problems in medical sectors across the world, especially in the USA, have been improper healthcare paper record-keeping and medical identity theft which have resulted in healthcare frauds that cost about billions of dollars annually.
Blockchain can solve these problems if all past and present medical information belonging to patients’ ailments, treatments, and family history of medical problems are stored in its network which is tamper-proof and has the ability to make every record permanent and not subject to adjustments.
9. Makes it possible for consumers to monitor each product’s supply chain
Blockchain can make it possible for consumers to know where products—food in particular—are coming from, especially during pandemics or when there is a spread of food-borne illness that consumers should be aware of.
With the help of blockchain, consumers can trace their food from its place of origin to their home, and make wise decisions about the products they intend to buy; Blockchain can also help sellers or entrepreneurs find out whether inefficiencies exist in their supply chains.