Blockchain is the buzzword of the year and almost everyone has heard of it. The technology became known mainly by the hype around cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. But it's more than just a way to make money fast. Blockchain has even more possibilities and will change many industries significantly. But the technology is still in the early stages of development and everyone is trying to figure out how to use it for themselves.
Blockchain is the main technology that bitcoin and other digital currencies operate on. It is a technology that allows transactions to be run in a secure and anonymous way. Basically, blockchain creates a true peer-to-peer secure transaction.
The two main duties of blockchain are to secure your data (trust), and to record everything that may be of value (history). Blockchain technology is becoming secure and is no longer viewed as something that is reserved for a small circle of tech specialists, and its popularity keeps on increasing every day.
There are some use cases of blockchain:
1. Blockchain in Identity management
Identity management is one of the key areas of blockchain implementation. Currently, we give our identity data to government institutions to manage for us and allow citizen authentication within a country. Often, this data is poorly managed, outdated and prone to security risks. Governments can implement a blockchain system that allows citizens to personally manage their identity records
2. Blockchain in Business contract
Business transactions involve making agreements between parties. Businesses can use blockchain to make legal contracts that are permanent.
3. Blockchain in Information Technology and Cybersecurity
Centralised data storage techniques in use currently are prone to breaches. Some notable breaches that were highly publicised like Equifax, Target, and Yahoo resulted in the dissemination of highly sensitive user information. Blockchain provides a way of recording data in a way that is transparent, auditable, secure, impenetrable and efficient; all features that form the basis of a cybersecurity system. Information Security and Antivirus vendors can invest in blockchain's capabilities to power their products
4. Blockchain in voting
Traditional voting systems are usually marred with irregularities. The immutability of blockchain records is the answer to this burgeoning problem. Agora, a startup working on a blockchain voting platform, had a proof of concept experiment in Sierra Leone's 2018 presidential elections.
5. Blockchain in healthcare industry
Medical records comprise of highly sensitive personal data which must be highly secured and this is where blockchain technology steps in. Here are some of the examples of blockchain applications in healthcare:
a) Securing medical records. Diagnosing a patient requires lots of health data about the patient in question. However, individuals are less willing to divulge their data due to privacy implications. With the transparency and security provided by a blockchain, everyone can safely share their medical records and be assured that only their authorized doctor can access it.
b) Medicine verification. Not all of us have the capability to verify whether a specific drug is legitimate or fake. A blockchain-based platform that tracks pharmaceutical records throughout the supply chain to ensure only authentic products reach the consumer.
6. Blockchain in financial sector
The financial sector is the main area that has increased the popularity of blockchain. Applications of blockchain in finance include:
a) International money transfer. Transfer services for moving money between borders have existed for a while. They include Western Union, PayPal, Skrill, etc. The process involves giving money to a middleman who balances the money using international exchange rates and takes their cut - transaction charges. Blockchain changes the way money is exchanged worldwide by removing the middleman. Money is exchanged directly between parties hence excluding the additional transaction fee.
b) Fast borrowing and lending money. Through blockchain, borrowers and lenders can connect directly without having to go through banks. This lowers interest rates as well as excluding the charges banks would take for facilitating the loans. MoneyToken is an example of a blockchain business loaning platform.
c) Reduce insurance fraud. Blockchain ensures records are timestamped and immutable. This prevents cases where one decides to file claims on behalf of ineligible dependents. Blockchain records help with the verification of previous medical services. Insurers in India are working on a project to achieve this.
d) Transfer of digital wills. Blockchain can prevent a loss of your savings should the inevitable happen. Through a blockchain-based project called Mywish, one creates smart contracts to handle their funds, which can be transferred to their loved ones during a crisis.
e) Blockchain powered stock market. Through blockchain-powered platforms, companies can register, issue, and trade shares. A company called Overstock started issuing shares via blockchain technology; London Stock Exchange is also testing a blockchain platform. There are more opportunities for developers under blockchain to completely disrupt stock market trading.
f) Accounting. The need for precision, accuracy, and transparency which are core features of accounting makes blockchain the best fit to power accounting software. With blockchain, transactions for approved users are visible hence decreasing the time auditors take to validate transactions. The Accounting Blockchain is a startup using blockchain to minimise inefficiencies in the accounting sector. Many gaps are open in accounting that can be filled with blockchain accountancy software.
Blockchain is an innovation that has shown great potential to radically transform the economy. Blockchain itself is a new business model. With blockchain, organisations can turn their businesses into decentralised platforms which can alter how their businesss work. It changes the entities, the flow of transactions, profits and also ensures that growth is maintained during the change.
Md Mehedi Hasan Bhuiyan is GM, Robi Axiata Ltd.