What are the use cases for Blockchain?
Blockchain gains a competitive edge from smart technical features including distributed ledger, cryptographically secured system and the encoding of smart contract logic.
Blockchain networks enable transactions between untrusting users without the need of centralised control. Cost-effectiveness, open source software, the speed of transaction, transparency, trust and peer-to-peer network are just some of the top advantages of the blockchain.
There are different types of blockchain, and each has its own set of applications and use cases.
Types of blockchain
Unpermissioned blockchain: This is a permissionless blockchain system that is open to everyone with no requirement of identity disclosure for participants. Blockchain system’s distributed nature makes its manipulation difficult.
Private blockchain: A private system of blockchain needs full disclosure of participants’ identities that are validated and accordingly blacklisted or whitelisted. For instance, a company may choose only some users to access the ledger. The owner of the blockchain has the right to override or delete blockchain entries. The restricted use adds to the security of the system although participation becomes less decentralised.
Public blockchain: A public network that is permissioned restricts the tasks users are allowed to perform. Participants can get permission only to read some transactions or to add blocks. Only those users who are privy to a particular project or transaction are able to view relevant sensitive details which make the system more secure. The public blockchain strikes an ideal balance between private and permissionless blockchains.
The blockchain is similar to a road, and just as there are different types of roads, such as dirt tracks, highways or motorways, blockchains can differ. Each blockchain is built to fulfill a specific purpose.
The blockchain ecosystem is comprised of independent elements that together form the entire system and enable it to function cohesively (just as roads have traffic controllers, signal lights, toll roads and so on). The essential elements of a blockchain system are the currencies, financial systems, and legal ecosystems.
|Cryptocurrency||Financial Ecosystem||Legal ecosystem|
|Altcoins||Central banks||Proof of ownership|
|Payment processing||Money transfer||Authentication and authorisation|
|Debit cards||Trading and markets||Intellectual property|
Use cases and applications of Blockchain
Blockchain technology has grabbed the attention of governments, and use cases are constantly being explored, while the ramifications are keenly being investigated.
Healthcare: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2017 made an announcement of its agreement with IBM Watson to explore Blockchain’s use in secure data sharing in healthcare systems.
Voting: Liberal Alliance, Denmark’s political party, became the first political party to make use of blockchain technology to carry out e-voting in 2014. The e-voting with blockchain was seen as a tamper-proof, transparent and reliable system as compared to the existing voting mechanisms.
Dubai is looking to completely shift over to blockchain by 2020 for license renewals, visa payments and bill payments. Moving to blockchain would save the country $1.1 billion per year, according to expert estimates.
Many countries across the globe have also started blockchain trials in different areas given its transparency, compliance, efficiency and cost benefits.
Legal contracts: In the legal sector, documentation is critical but cumbersome, while being time inefficient. Secure storage of critical contracts and documents poses a challenge given the possibilities of human error. Smart contracts enabled by blockchain technology can solve such problems and eliminate the requirement for lawyer involvement in contract creation. Arizona acknowledges signatures that are secured on blockchain while blockchain-based records are allowed to be admitted by Vermont courts as evidence.
Retail and supply chain: The retail sector, as well, has numerous applications for blockchain. Reducing fraud, protection of consumer data, loyalty programs tokenisation, micropayments, prevention of counterfeiting and facilitating cooperative purchase are just some of the myriad applications in the retail segment.
With real-time tracking abilities, blockchain technology is particularly appealing to retail and supply chains.
Well-known retail giant Walmart has joined hands with IBM for the Hyperledger Fabric blockchain. This enables Walmart to track food staples right from the supplier all the way to the shelf.
Similarly, pharmaceutical companies that are required to ensure chain of custody could also benefit greatly by implementing the ledger.
Blockchain can effectively capture data across different levels in the supply chain and present the total volume with no need for data sharing.
In supply chain, the blockchain can solve the problems of tracking the volumes of movement across partners in the supply chain which can be time-consuming. Tracking the goods traditionally also necessitates recruitment of a huge team who can audit orders.
Predictive analysis: Smarter predictions are another intriguing area of use for blockchain technology. For instance, Endor is an AI platform that is blockchain-powered for predictive analysis and real-time solutions. Businesses and individuals can utilise the predictions protocol for relevant projects.
Contributors such as application developers, predictive engine providers and data providers get rewarded for the contributions they make on the platform while users can access predictive functionalities on the ecosystem by spending coins.
The AI platform provides accurate forecasts and ensures small enterprises and consumers gain control over predictive capabilities.
Aircraft maintenance: Storage of aircraft data related to maintenance is another critical application for blockchain, thanks to the immutable cloud-based ledger. The maintenance logs being stored on the cloud enable aircraft technicians to make informed and accurate decisions on replacements, repairs and other critical maintenance tasks while making the data available easily to all concerned stakeholders.
Staff can review the maintenance cycle more efficiently, eliminating the need for numerous cross-checking of data with different stakeholders.
Free internet: The World Wide Web, founded by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, is another important area where the blockchain technology is being explored. Decentralisation of the internet has been a movement that is gaining traction with many calling for an end to the monopoly or centralisation.
The DWeb or Decentralise the Web movement has the aim to empower content creators by removing power from advertisers. The objective of DWeb is an internet system in the future that has complete security, privacy and safeguards against loss while being open and free for all.
Decentralisation is the key benefit and feature of blockchain technology. The absence of middlemen, government control or vested interests will enable optimal content distribution and sharing across the globe.