If you’ve not heard yet, blockchain is the next big technological innovation that’s set to change the world. Building on the internet, the distributed ledger system first devised by the anonymous creator of the digital currency Bitcoin can provide transparency, efficiency, and greater accountability to many established industries.
Also like the internet, it’s very difficult to say for certain how each industry will be impacted by the innovation. Back in 1990, to claim that you’d be using this cutting-edge network to contact a stranger to come and pick you up in their car and take you to where you needed to be would have been preposterous!
What follows is by no means a complete list of the industries that will be disrupted by blockchain technology. There are many more, and new ideas come to the fore every day. The industries listed below are just the first to feel the impact of this ground-breaking technological innovation called blockchain.
Of course, no discussion about blockchain disruption would be complete without mentioning finance. The first practical application of the technology (and the reason it was invented in the first place) is digital currency.
Now, although there are many hundreds of digital coins and tokens out there at present, it all started with Bitcoin. As mentioned, Satoshi Nakamoto (Bitcoin’s anonymous creator) elegantly solved the problem that had been plaguing cryptographers for years – how do you stop someone spending a unit of digital currency twice.
Blockchain achieves this by having all transactions made using a digital currency checked by all the users of the network. By requiring all participants to come to consensus, each transaction can be trusted that it abides by the rules of the network itself. No one can cheat the system because their transaction would simply be rejected by the entire network of participants.
This could have huge implications for the world of finance. Traditionally, people wanting to send value from one account to another would need to rely on a middleman – a bank. Banks require immense trust in them and as we saw in the 2008 financial crisis, that trust is not always well-placed.
Using a blockchain-based unit of exchange such as Bitcoin requires no trust in a central authority. It only requires trust in the code of the network. Since this code is open-source, it can be (and is) checked by anyone who has the technical knowledge to do so. This greatly increases the efficiency and reliability of financial services and the slow move from traditional systems to decentralized ones is already underway.
Another industry that can benefit from blockchain is logistics. When we order a product online, it is sent out for delivery. This again requires trust. How do you know that the product was sent? Well, traditionally you just trust some large firm to do it. However, it then gets passed on to a logistics company who could deny all knowledge of ever receiving said item.
By using cryptographic signatures uploaded to a blockchain, products can be tracked with much greater efficiency. Each time a different carrier takes the item on its journey, the blockchain would need to be updated and signed digitally. This would allow all users (the customer, the logistics company, and the supplier of the product) to check where a parcel is up to in transit.
Should an item ever go missing, it is easy to categorically state which stage of the journey it was lost on. This obviously means that systems can run with greater accountability, as well as transparency.
Such a system is already being worked upon by global logistics firm UPS. If it proves successful, it’s likely that others will follow. Removing the necessity of trust is what blockchain technology is all about and logistics can certainly benefit from this.
Did you know that the fishing industry is absolutely ripe with fraud? All over the world, there are companies passing off farmed salmon for its Alaskan, line-caught counterpart. This is just the tip of the iceberg, however. Some companies will even pass chemically constructed “fish” off as the real thing. Of course, as a consumer, it’s often difficult to spot the difference. If those little flakes on your seafood pizza look and taste like fish, they probably are, right? Well, not always!
Again, blockchain can help here. By using a blockchain-based system, combined with a tiny chip in some inedible part of the fish, consumers can check exactly when it was taken from the sea. A GPS sensor in the chip could show them the entire route that the fish had taken to get to their plate. It could even show at what temperature the fish had been kept at and give a red-flag if the environment the produce had been kept in ever encouraged the growth of bacteria.
This is just one of the many ways in which blockchain technology can help eliminate fraud. The likes of UEFA (the European football organization) have successfully distributed tickets on the blockchain to help cut down on ticketing fraud. There are many similar initiatives being worked upon around the world.
Like all industries that involve some form of payment (so all of them), gambling can benefit from blockchain-based digital currencies such as Bitcoin. However, by building casinos themselves onto blockchains, it’s possible to create a much more just online casino than ever before.
Using blockchain, developers can create what’s referred to as a “provably fair” casino. Whilst this is a little technical to explain in such a short article, it’s the digital equivalent of being able to take a deck of cards from a dealer at a casino and count them, checking them for fairness. Whilst it certainly won’t guarantee that you’ll win at the online blackjack tables of the future, it will make sure that you can check that there was a chance you could have won.
Again, blockchain’s ability to remove the necessity of trust from industries is one of its most powerful qualities. Gone are the days when the fish at the poker table can type: “Fix, [insert name of well-known poker site] is f**king rigged!”
You can visit nodepositrewards.com for some brands already exploring the implications of blockchain technology in the casino industry. One such casino is Cool Cat Casino (read review) which has implemented games that use the blockchain to secure the random Number Generator.
Another industry that heavily relies on trust is charity. When you donate to an organization, wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could ensure that said donation had actually gone to the cause that you wanted? Well, thanks to blockchain, you can.
One organization that is exploring the implications of blockchain technology with regards charity is the UN World Food Program. The system they’ve been working on aims to make the distribution of funds across borders more transparent, faster, and more secure. Their Director of Innovation and Change Management, Robert Opp, stated in a post to the organization’s website:
“Through blockchain, we aim to cut payment costs, better protect beneficiary data, control financial risks, and respond more rapidly in the wake of emergencies. Using blockchain can be a qualitative leap – not only for WFP, but for the entire humanitarian community”Robert opp, Director of Innovation and Change Management
However, the very first application of blockchain technology is also useful in the charity industry. Cryptocurrencies are created through a process called “mining”. While Bitcoin requires highly specialized equipment to solve the necessary mathematical problems to unlock new currency, others do not.
Monero, for example, can be mined using a standard computer CPU. UNICEF Australia noticed this and created a website that allows visitors to spend some of their idle computing power to mine Monero whilst they browse the web. All the funds generated through the sale of the Monero mined are then used to fund various charitable causes. Check out TheHopePage to try it for yourself!