With all the hype that surrounds Bitcoin, casual observers often overlook the intriguing and revolutionary technology that underpins it:
It’s often been remarked that although cryptocurrencies have an unpredictable future, blockchain is here to stay. I believe this to be true, and it is constantly being demonstrated by a few key examples of how blockchain is starting to change or impact the way people and/or businesses interact for the better.
Tracing Food Supply
It’s no secret that food travels great distances to arrive on the grocery store shelves. This is also the case with bulk produce, and most packaged goods as well. Food safety and the welfare of the environment and agricultural workers, are more important now than with previous generations due to large scale logistics and machinery. The IBM Food Trust uses blockchain technology to accurately track food from farm to table, in the process enhancing transparency and making it easier to trace contamination in the event of recalls.
Renewable Energy Exchange
For a period of time, solar panels and alternative energy sources were all the rage. Eco-conscious consumers still look for ways to reduce their dependence on expensive, environmentally damaging fuels. A drawback of this shift is the likelihood of individual homeowners producing more renewable energy than they can use. That’s where Brooklyn Microgrid comes in. The project runs on a blockchain platform called ENERGY, where members of the community can exchange power with each other, contributing to a more sustainable, connected future that’s better for us all.
Foreign Aid Delivery
Blockchain has the power to revolutionize aid delivery in the developing world by making it possible to easily track the flow of funds, enabling anyone to confirm when aid has actually reached its intended recipients, without having been stolen or misappropriated. Greater accountability may also make it easier for NGOs to raise funds from donors, given that they can see and track the direct impact of their contributions with blockchain. The World Food Program has combined the usage of blockchain technology with biometric technology to ensure secure, efficient delivery of foreign aid to Syrian refugees living in Jordan.
The process of voting is central to any functional democracy. It is, however, a challenge to keep the ballot box free from risk of fraud, technical errors, malicious attacks, or damage. Technology is typically fallible, just by the inherently imperfect nature of systems. Blockchain is a superior methodology because it is designed to be highly transparent and secure. Not only can any observer, in theory, analyze a series of transactions on a (public) blockchain, but because of blockchain’s immutability, events can’t be erased. The implementation of blockchain would need to be done correctly, as any voting process is incredibly important, however since blockchain technology is secure, stable and open, it may be an ideal component in a fraud- and error-free future process of digital voting.
Real Estate Ownership And Mortgages
At its simplest, blockchain is a secure, open ledger. Its security is rooted in the fact that a blockchain is decentralized, not operated or held in any specific location, and that is updated via consensus. Because transactions build on top of one another, fraud is virtually impossible. Moving real estate titles to a blockchain would reduce the possibility for fraud, theft or error. As soon as a title is transferred, the evidence of it on a blockchain would dramatically reduce fraud, due to being immutable and secure. This is unlike paper or digital documents that require interpretation, that are hosted in centralized databases with the potentiality of being tampered with, or that could be destroyed or lost in a different way.
An interesting new crypto-company that is working on real estate from a sligthly different angle, is Block66. Block66 are revolutionizing mortgages via the utilization of blockchain. This is being done by lowering the barrier of entry for all individuals, and increasing the efficiency of the entire mortgage process from A-Z, effectively leading to a potential disruption of the entire 32.9 trillion dollar mortgage industry.
Global corporations rely on labor in many different regulatory regimes. Often, workers do not receive the protections they are owed because laws are non-existent or not enforced. Earlier this year, Coca-Cola announced it would use its own supply chain in nearly 30 countries to gather data on worker conditions by 2020. The company is using blockchain in order to secure data on workers contracts, and intends to share it with the U.S. State Department. Coca-Cola said blockchain would help the company increase transparency and verification of its own labor policies abroad, meaning it should be harder for malicious actors to abuse Coca-Cola’s employees.
Blockchain is a technology that removes the need for trust. With no need for external verification of an activity or event, the permissionless nature of the technology has numerous applications across industries and communities. Blockchain technology may just help us build a better and more fair world, if we utilize it correctly.