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The blockchain technologies (Ethereum & Hyperledger) are at the peak of hype, research, and debate for tech giants and large corporations across the world. As it was in the last year, there are whole new sets of blockchain benefits and blockchain trends which will be followed by blockchain development companies and businesses in 2019.
As per a research report by IDC, a total of over $1.5 Billion have already been spent by companies on blockchain technology like ethereum & hyperledger as of October 2018. This number is expected to reach a whopping $11.7 billion by the year 2022, at a CAGR of 73.2%.
Statista also reveals that the size of the Blockchain market will reach an estimated value of US $2.3 Billion by the year 2021.
Complimenting such estimates, Upwork’s 2018 quarterly index of top skills in the US market reported Blockchain development is the most sought-after skill out of 20 most relevant skill sets.
Around the time Blockchain development was at the peak of its hype in 2017, a McKinsey report stated that the underlying technology behind the bitcoin revolution would create new business ecosystems to the tune of over $50 trillion by the year 2025.
Fast-forward to 2 years, companies like Kodak (which failed to capitalize on the Digital revolutions in the 1990s and paid a heavy price), are now filing ICOs and creating new ecosystems.
The now dethroned king in the photography business- Kodak is now planning for a resurgence with KODAKOne, a blockchain-based image rights management platform created in collaboration with WENN digital.
2019 might see similar innovative blockchain benefits used by firms, with new ecosystems helping corporations and consumers to capitalize on the promises of the blockchain Tech.
The use of smart contracts (a program that automates the execution of agreements between two parties based on terms and conditions coded in a machine-readable language) in the Ethereum Blockchain platform spewed up myriad posts and articles on the internet, with thoughts on how Smart contracts can revolutionize entire industries and activities. This year, Ricardian contracts might perhaps one-up the former in the game of blockchain benefits and additions, and give enthusiasts and CIOs a new trend to catch up to.
In essence, the most basic difference between a Smart contract and a Ricardian contract is that while the former consists of machine-readable code which executes the action that both parties in a contract are bound- the latter is both machine and human readable, and is, in fact, a human-created agreement that is translated into a form readable by software.
The creator of Ricardian contracts, Ian Grigg defines it as “a digital contract that deﬁnes the terms and conditions of interaction, between two or more peers, that is cryptographically signed and veriﬁed. Importantly it is both human and machine readable and digitally signed”.
Just like how enterprise software such as SAP platforms help businesses to manage operations, 2019 will be a year when we’ll see new platforms offering companies with a decent list of templates to choose for implementing a blockchain network of their choosing.
Using platforms for such technology saves time in the creation of specialized platforms which cost time and money. This is known as BaaS, or Blockchain as a service, a cloud-based service through which companies can readily leverage the power of blockchain without the need for understanding the core of technology and bearing the headache of its setup and infrastructure.
Companies such as Amazon with AWS, Microsoft with its Azure cloud services and Oracle are already providing such BaaS platforms for a few well-known clients. However, 2019 will encourage more enterprises to rely on BaaS, harness blockchain benefits and move ahead of the competition.
There are mainly two types of Blockchain networks: public blockchain networks and private blockchain networks. A public blockchain network is one which provides the best of blockchain benefits. It is transparent, decentralized, immutable and distributed and can have incredible use cases in the public domain.
However, public blockchains are limited in the fact that these networks are slow and transactions take a lot of time due to encryption methods such as proof of stake.
Now let’s talk about private blockchain networks. Private blockchain networks are mostly similar to a public blockchain. But these are centralized, meaning that the networks are owned either by an individual or an enterprise. The owner(s) of a blockchain network can thus restrict read/edit permissions to the other users of the network.
While a private blockchain moves away with the benefit of decentralization, such networks are much faster and cheaper as they can be controlled by a specific amount of users and the consensus can be regulated.
What is a hybrid blockchain? A hybrid blockchain is the amalgamation of both public and private blockchain. SO how does hybrid blockchain work? In principle, a hybrid blockchain is centralized, i.e., owned by an entity. But such a network works in two different states, one would be a private state and the other, a public state of blockchain network.
The advantage of hybrid blockchain networks is that certain parts of the network can be kept public, and certain parts private. This would be cheaper and faster than a public blockchain, at the same time also allows access to the blockchain benefits of the same. Enterprises and governments are expected to push forward towards implementation of hybrid blockchain networks in 2019.
One important feature of a blockchain network is the fact that data stored on it is immutable by nature. This means that any transaction that takes place/any data that is added can never be tampered with or removed. This feature will find an incredible utility in 2019 with the tokenization of digital assets.
In fact, blockchain tokenization can also apply to physical assets such as real estate. To understand how it would work, imagine that a physical asset is valued at $100,000. This asset can be tokenized on a blockchain network with its digital representation consisting of 100,000 tokens.
Now, buyers can buy a specific amount of tokens to own a certain percentage of this digital representation of the physical asset being tokenized. Say, for example, owing 50,000 tokens would equate to 50% stake in ownership of the asset.
The transaction data that led to this ownership will go through a consensus method, and would eventually become an immutable record on a blockchain network. Though this method does have certain limitations with regard to legal aspects, 2019 might be the year where we’ll see new regulations put in place to facilitate and control tokenization through blockchain.
The core promise of the blockchain technology is of a trustless and secure network. While that indeed is a big deal in 2019, blockchain needs something to compliment itself in order to serve in the best possible way. Enter the Internet of Things. The use of IoT devices will result in over 20 billion things connected to the internet by the end of 2020. But the greatest threat to such an interconnected world is that of security, one which blockchain promises to resolve.
Blockchain networks possess high resistance to cyber hacking and attacks. Having IoT data pass through these networks could potentially make IoT devices more secure than ever before.
According to IDC, over 150 million people will have a blockchain-based digital identity by the year 2022. Digital identification has one of the most hyped use cases for blockchain benefits ever since it gained popularity. Having a form of identity proof recognizable by entities, institutions and the government is essential for accessing services facilitating life and growth. However, the current mediums of identity verification are simply not efficient enough for any government or entity to keep track of.
This is why over 45 governments were involved in the development of over 200 blockchain-based initiatives for identity verification in 2018. Thus we can expect that 2019 will be the year when finally we’ll come to see digital identification methods based on blockchain being put into practice.
The decentralized and distributed nature of the blockchain can be incredibly useful in supply chain management. It’s use cases involve tracking of raw materials for manufacturing processes, as well as tracking the source of organic foods.
Among those who’ll benefit from the use of blockchain in retail will be regulatory agencies and end consumers, who can gather verified data through blockchain networks to determine counterfeit products and verify the authenticity of any purchased goods.
According to Gartner, 30% of the total manufacturing companies with annual turnover of over $5 Billion will derive these blockchain benefits for safety and efficiency in their business. In fact, retail giants such as Walmart and Carrefour are already ready to deploy blockchain-based food-tracking systems in 2019.
One of the greatest use cases of blockchain technology comes in the healthcare sector. In a world without blockchain, it happens very often that data collected from patients turn out to be far from accurate. Inaccurate data can have huge implications in the longer turn as this data is also put to use by medical students and professionals for research purposes.
The immutable nature of blockchain can prove useful in cases such as these. Storing patient data on blockchain networks can help to achieve two main goals. The first of these is to allow patients to claim ownership of their data. The second primary goal is to enable efficient access to such data to researchers and medical professionals.
Blockchain can also help prevent drug counterfeiting, a practice which presents a loss of over 10.2 Billion Euros to the European pharmaceutical industry each year. This linked blog from IBM can provide a deeper understanding of blockchain use cases in the healthcare sector.
The annual SAP digital transformation executive study reveals that executives in the banking & insurance sector plan to double their investments in 2019. This reflects the reports of another recent survey as per which nearly 70% of health insurers in the US plan to invest in blockchain development this year.
The Insurance sector is without a doubt, one of the most important sectors in need of great blockchain benefits. Insurance companies rely on a huge amount of data for the execution of policies and processing transactions. Through the use of complementary technologies such as IoT and smart contracts, using blockchain can help companies store, validate records and facilitate an efficient process of registering claims for those insured.
Top insurance corporations such as Liberty Mutual, Swiss RE, Allianz, and Aegon have already jumped on the blockchain bandwagon with the launch of their B3i initiative. It is a startup platform which aims to use blockchain for delivering secure and transparent access to services for insured customers.
We started with a question- what are the top blockchain benefits and trends in 2019? By now, I believe you’d be well-acquainted with the knowledge of the top blockchain trends and blockchain benefits that will impact 2019. The blockchain benefits might have also helped you understand how blockchain development is shaping our present and making way for a more transparent, secure and independent future. Here are a few takeaways:
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