Beyond Digital Currency: The True Potential of Blockchain Technology
Blockchain technology is linked to more applications than just the exchange of digital currency. From virtual wallets to vending machines, the future of this exciting technology is rapidly changing every aspect of our lives. Here’s a look at some of the broader examples of blockchain’s vast potential.
What is blockchain technology?
Described as a “decentralised database” or “decentralised ledger”, blockchain is a steadily growing presence within many technology sectors. Bitcoin is its first real-world application. Despite its tainted association with digital currencies price volatility in the early days, blockchain technology is now helping drive innovation across a wide range of non-cryptocurrency applications, such as the management of loyalty points, asset tracking and tracing, and creating virtual wallets for finance management.
The Deloitte 2019 Global Blockchain Survey revealed that today there is a less short-sighted view of blockchain, and the technology is capable of delivering many business advantages, such as increased security and lower risk, new business models and value chains, and greater speed toward production or delivery.
Now, the focus is on what business models the technology could potentially disrupt. The survey says business organisations should be asking many questions to reflect upon the role blockchain technology can play within their operations.
You might ask, how are blockchain-enabled processes (otherwise known as dApps or ‘distributed applications’) changing the way your sector does business? How can blockchain reshape your industry and what are your long-term objectives and strategies? Does blockchain create the potential for new market ecosystems and what role should you play? And, what opportunities does blockchain generate for co-creating new markets?
Welcome to the mainstream
Outside of digital currency, there are plenty of opportunities to bring blockchain further into the world of mainstream business and finance. In his article Forget Bitcoin: Blockchain is the Future Nathan Reiff names cross-border payments, smart contracts, and identity management as powerful applications (dApps) for blockchain technology.
Blockchain delivers a high level of security, explains Reiff, mainly due to independent verification processes that take place throughout computers on a blockchain network.
“This verification is used to approve transactions before they are added to the chain,” he says. “This mechanism could just as easily be applied to other types of verification procedures, including identity verification, as well as other applications.”
Blockchain and the Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) describes the billions of physical devices around the world connected to the Internet, such as home appliances and vending machines, all collecting and sharing data. Merge IoT technology with blockchain and you have a model for a reliable, secure and permanent method of recording data processed by intelligent, or ‘smart’ devices. Again, this is all part of the bright future predicted for blockchain technology.
With blockchain technology driving the IoT world, real-world applications stack up quickly. In the supply chain and logistics sector, the reliability and traceability of shipments will improve dramatically. IoT-enabled devices will allow the tracking of shipment movements at every stage, while blockchain will provide transparency to the entire transaction.
In the automotive sector, connecting IoT-enabled vehicles with blockchain technology allows for the exchange of crucial information quickly and easily. There are also smart-parking solutions that utilise blockchain.
Blockchain has applications across the smart-homes industry – particularly in the area of remotely monitored home security. And thanks to blockchain IoT technology, the pharmaceutical sector can effectively counter the rise of counterfeit medicines.
Our blockchain driven future
There is no doubt that blockchain is coming of age. Blockchain-based initiatives cover multiple sectors, from cross-border payments to education, healthcare to identity verification, insurance to legal, shipping and logistics to social good, and much more. It all began with the exchange of digital currency, and now there is no end in sight for its use in the new decentralised world we’re moving to.