Contributed by Emily Moore
When most people hear of blockchain technology news, most will associate the systems with the burgeoning market for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. The truth, however, is that blockchain technology is poised to have a significant impact on a wide range of different industries. Blockchain has the power to maintain unprecedented levels of financial transparency whilst also providing water-tight security for the instantaneous transfer of sensitive financial and personal data. Much like the modern space entrepreneur, blockchain technology is leading us through uncharted territory into a world where the potential applications could change our lives forever.
We’ll look at some of the most notable sectors where blockchain technology is likely to make its presence felt, and take a look at how different blockchain technology companies are disrupting the marketplace. It’s impossible to cover every potential application for blockchain, but there’s no shortage of examples of how the technology is already proving revolutionary.
Blockchain Technology Explained
Before we go on, it’s important to know the basics of how blockchain technology works. Blockchain started when Bitcoin emerged as the first cryptocurrency in 2009. The technology itself is a time-stamped collection of data that are maintained by a distributed network of nodes. In short, the database is maintained across the whole distributed ledger in real-time, so that there’s no way of altering any aspect of blockchain without the activity being permanently recorded in the ledger, making it immutable and impossible to forge or illicitly alter.
1. Medical Data Distribution
Data security is a huge concern for the medical sector. Patient information is a valuable target for cybercriminals and can lead to the theft of financial information as well as sensitive and intimate details of medical records. Blockchain technology in healthcare has the power to maintain an incorruptible ledger of patient information, while its decentralized architecture means that the information can be instantly accessed by primary care companies and insurance providers. At the same time, it can also maintain the anonymity of patients and their medical records through unbreakable encryption.
- Akiri: This company runs a network designed specifically for the secure transport of patient data that uses blockchain without storing any data on the network itself.
- BurstIQ: BurstIQ uses blockchain for the securely regulated transferral of patient data licenses.
- Factom: This firm has developed a security chip that can be added to a patient’s physical health record to help securely transport and coordinate medical information.
2. NFT Marketplaces
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are the result of an art collection negotiating the world of digital intellectual properties. None of this would be possible without blockchain technology certification, which helps maintain a record of the NFTs’ authenticity and ownership in a way that wouldn’t otherwise be possible with digital materials.
- OpenSea: This NFT exchange saw a record $3.4 billion of transactions in August 2021 alone.
3. Music Royalties
In a world where illegal downloading continues to be rife and artists earn less than a penny for a stream on Spotify, musicians are waking up to the potential of blockchain technology to level the playing field. Blockchain can cut out many of the middlemen and streamline royalty payments from their point of origin to help provide artists with a greater portion of the profits every time their work is enjoyed.
- Vezt: This company offers a revolutionary approach that uses blockchain to allow fans to fund their favorite musicians in return for a stake in the royalties from the artists’ work.
- MediaChain: This firm provides musicians with smart contracts to provide transparent royalty arrangements without having to involve expensive third parties.
- Ujo: This platform uses blockchain to help musicians publish their works while setting their own licensing arrangements and staying in control of distribution methods.
4. International Payments
Blockchain’s distributed ledger technology has the potential to upend conventional payment systems across the globe. Blockchain technology in banking offers secure financial transfers with maximum efficiency that don’t require a centralized middleman (namely, banks) or processing fees charged by third-party companies. Where international wire transfers can take up to a week to process, cross-border transactions with blockchain take place in real-time.
- Ripple: This company uses blockchain to allow international payments at high speeds in collaboration with over 175 payment platforms and banks across the globe.
- Airfox: This blockchain-powered banking platform helps provide financial services to less economically developed countries, offering money transfers, small loans, utility payments, and more.
- Circle Pay: Circle Pay offers money transfers in a variety of currencies in 29 countries using blockchain to safeguard all transactions.
5. IoT Processes
The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to a wireless communication network of interconnected smart devices. The security of these networks is crucial in determining the potential for IoT technology, which is where blockchain technology comes in.
- Chronicled: Chronicled integrates blockchain into its IoT processes to help logistics parties track the source and location of freight, to help trace everything from food deliveries to pharmaceuticals.
- Helium: This firm uses blockchain to keep smaller IoT devices like microchips and routers connected online.
- ArcTouch: ArcTouch creates blockchain-enabled software to develop various smart technologies for goods as diverse as voice assistants, smart TVs, and wearable fitness technology.
6. Identity Security
The internet was originally designed as a completely open platform, which is why it’s traditionally been a struggle to maintain identity security online. The many different companies we entrust with sensitive information every day are obliged to maintain the utmost care of our information, with personal and financial data stored in a multitude of digital silos. Blockchain technology offers a future where all your vital details are kept in a secure ledger under your control that could be accessed by companies on an ad hoc basis, effectively ending the perpetual storage of your most important information across multiple online silos.
- IBM: The computer giant is developing its Verify Credentials service to create a decentralized identity layer for users.
- NEC: The tech company is enabling blockchain-powered digital identity management solutions for both individuals and businesses.
- KYC Chain: This company has developed an identity platform powered by distributed ledger technology that allows individuals complete control over the data they share with other parties.
7. Anti-Money Laundering Solutions
Money laundering is only successful when the original (and illegal) source of the money can be obscured. With the distributed ledger of blockchain, this becomes almost impossible. Blockchain technology can help firms carrying out due diligence to track the funds going in and out of a company and can pick up fraud and violations of compliance.
- Chainalysis: This company employs blockchain systems for software that can detect money laundering behaviors and other forms of financial malfeasance.
- Ocular: This compliance platform leverages blockchain technology for its security systems to ensure that data cannot be breached or misrepresented.
- Confirm: This business utilizes blockchain analytics to produce cutting-edge anti-money laundering solutions and monitoring services.
8. Supply Chain Monitoring
The integrity of the distributed ledger makes blockchain perfect for tracking consignments that change hands many times before they arrive at their final destination. For shipping and logistics firms, this means a package can be tracked from producer to purchaser and at every stage along the way, no matter how many different couriers are involved. Blockchain technology implemented into a supply chain also reduces the chances of cargo going missing, as its last confirmed whereabouts will always be stored in the ledger.
- DHL: The shipping behemoth has been one of the biggest early adopters of blockchain technology in the shipping industry, using digital ledgers to maintain shipment ledgers.
- Amazon Managed Blockchain: Amazon offers shipping solutions for end-to-end tracking that securely register every step of a shipment’s journey with blockchain.
9. Voting Systems
Beyond commercial applications, blockchain can also play a role in government processes. Some state authorities are already using blockchain to safeguard sensitive data, but the technology can also be used in future elections. As demonstrated by widespread accusations of ballot stuffing in the last election, some feel that the system is broken. Blockchain could revolutionize elections by eventually making it possible for people to cast their votes through their phones, which the distributed ledger would help authenticate. Not only will this increase trust in the political system, but, combined with blockchain technology training, the approach could also encourage more citizens to vote by making the process easier and more intuitive.
- Follow My Vote: This digital voting platform uses blockchain to effectively create an open-source ballot box that can be accessed from any device with the utmost security.
- Voatz: This mobile voting service uses blockchain and biometric encryption to make mobile voting a secure process that’s hacker-proof.
- Horizon State: This firm offers a secure digital ballot box service using blockchain to make all results immutable.
10. Content Creation
As we’ve seen with NFTs, blockchain has the potential to empower content creators by tackling piracy and ensuring that creators are fairly compensated for their work. A song file on a blockchain network can be shared around while still maintaining ownership within the ledger. Blockchain technology can provide these benefits to creators of every kind of digital media.
- Civil: This company aimed to make sustainable journalism through blockchain technology by compensating writers for their decentralized reporting. The company closed after struggling to be financially sustainable. However, the goal of decentralized reporting may still be realized in the future.
- Steem: This social media network encourages content creation by offering tokens based on the number of likes a post accrues.
- Open Music Initiative: This non-profit is leveraging blockchain to tremendous effect in its efforts to get better compensation for artists across all genres.
11. Crypto Trading
Blockchain technology courses through the DNA of cryptocurrency, and the market for cryptocurrencies of different kinds continues to balloon year on year. Blockchain technology investment is a multibillion-dollar business, and as its popularity shows no sign of stopping, more and more crypto exchanges continue to appear to meet the growth in demand. Thanks to blockchain technology, the story of crypto may only have just begun.
- Gemini: This digital asset exchange service offers secure trading and storage for cryptos like Ethereum and Bitcoin.
- eToro: The massively popular investment platform started as a crypto exchange but now offers all kinds of investment markets.
- Binance: This company is the largest crypto exchange in the world in terms of the sheer volume of trades.
Bet on a Blockchain Technology Future
Although blockchain technology hasn’t yet fully matured, its impact is already being felt around the world in different industries. These are just some of the sectors where blockchain is causing disruption to traditional ways of doing business. Blockchain technology jobs are likely to be in high demand in the future as well, as more and more businesses adopt it. Do you have predictions for the blockchain technology applications of tomorrow? Share them with us in the comment section below.