Blockchain technology has taken the world by storm since its creation in 2008.
Made popular as the engine for the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, blockchain technology is now being considered as the answer for many different industries. With the ability to provide a secure and efficient way to transfer data, many predict that the technology is going to have a big impact on our future.
Although, what is blockchain? How is it currently being used? And what impact will the technology have?
What Is Blockchain?
Blockchain technology is a “decentralized” database that allows the processing and storing of sensitive information to occur on a peer-to-peer network. This means there is no one central authority managing the data and everyone on the network can see the transactions, guaranteeing accuracy.
It effectively cuts out the middlemen, such as banks, authorities or agencies, who need to get involved and verify transactions on a centralized network.
A block is a new transaction that has been registered in the network. This could be the movement of a digital currency, details of voting records or any other form of digital activity. As each new block is completed, it gets added to the chain of existing records.
Anyone can see the information recorded, even if the identities of the people involved are hidden. Blockchain uses cryptography to ensure secure transactions, with a chain of computers in the network approving each exchange.
How Blockchain Is Currently Being Used
There are many different ways that blockchain technology is being used around the world. Perhaps the most obvious (and well known) is Bitcoin, the first technology behind blockchain. While this isn’t the only cryptocurrency available, the incredible rise in value recently has led to it being widely talked about.
Bitcoin started off as a low-key currency among tech enthusiasts, although the recent increase in its value has exploded the cryptocurrency into the mainstream. As well as its potential as an investment, Bitcoin is also used to pay for goods and services.
In fact, there seems no limit to what the cryptocurrency can be used for, with two luxury homes recently being sold in the UK using Bitcoin. It has also been used in certain countries to get around scarcity of local currency or high inflation rates. In some places, you can pay with it in physical stores, as well as online.
Another example of blockchain-enabled platforms is VeChain (VEN). Described as the world’s leading blockchain platform for products and information, VeChain allows users to track items and ensure the quality and authenticity of goods. The movement of a product along the supply chain is recorded and verified (sourcing, production, replacements, etc.).
VeChain is regarded as one of the most promising enterprises in this field, already used by luxury goods firms, as well as in agriculture and government departments.
Basic Attention Token
Basic Attention Token is another project that has gained a lot of attention. Companies forked out over $200 billion in 2017 for advertising, and this figure is expected to rise substantially.
The company is looking to re-invent online advertising by using a reward system to optimize the experience of ads. Rewards in the form of tokens can be exchanged between advertisers, publishers and users. While Basic Attention Tokens are a currency, they also represent viewer attention.
Blockchain and Its Impact on Different Industries
It seems as though there is no limit to the way blockchain can change the world. With new blockchain enabled companies rapidly adopting the technology, many industries could be turned upside down. Below are some of the industries that can be impacted by blockchain in the next few years.
The first example that many people think of is of banking. After all, digital currencies are already big business.
With the ability to move money anywhere in the world with increased accuracy and improved security, blockchain can open up banking to people who wouldn’t otherwise have access to it. Interestingly, banks are also moving toward adopting this technology to make financial operations more efficient, fast and secure.
Online music is another industry that can change drastically with the help of blockchain. Currently, musicians give up a large percentage of sales to record companies or third-party platforms. Several startups, such as Mycelia and Ujo Music, aim to cut out the middlemen and support the artist directly, providing more control and ownership.
The concept of peer-to-peer communication means that the music industry is likely to see huge changes over the next few years. This won’t be restricted to just rising artists once everyone discovers the benefits.
The application of blockchain technology in the online betting industry can provide numerous benefits to users. With trust being a major factor in online betting, blockchain can provide players with a new level of assurance that they are being treated fairly as each transaction is an open book.
There is far less risk of personal details being compromised or your identity being stolen, as digital currency transactions are pseudo-anonymous, with no need to link bank details or cards. As with the other industries, one should make sure to pick tested and trustworthy vendors to safeguard against rogue operators.
With the 2016 U.S election coming under fire for rigging results, blockchain technology could provide the solution. This could be used for voter registration, verification and electronic counting to ensure increased levels of transparency throughout the process.
As information would be available publicly, blockchain can help make elections fair while improving efficiency at the same time.
Democratic governments can also benefit from blockchain-based systems to improve efficiency, transparency and overall operations.
The move towards putting government information on blockchain has already started in Dubai.
The Future of Blockchain
There seems to be no doubt that blockchain is going to change our lives in the years to come.
The technology provides a solid solution to the increasingly prevalent problem of security that is faced across many different industries. And it seems it’s only a matter of time before blockchain is influencing our daily lives.