10 Insane Real World Applications of the Blockchain Technology

Blockchain is more than just bitcoin. Saying that it could potentially save the world might be a bit of a drag but it sure can make it a better place than today. But as it is, not a lot of us get the concept of decentralized ledgers.

16th Oct 2019
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Blockchain is more than just bitcoin. Saying that it could potentially save the world might be a bit of a drag but it sure can make it a better place than today. But as it is, not a lot of us get the concept of decentralized ledgers. 


Blockchain in a nutshell:

A blockchain is a group or a network of computers that store the records of transactions that happen within the group. There is no central authority to validate this but just the network agreeing on whether the data entered is correct or not. 


From the moment it was proposed and was openly used by the Mysterious internet ninja Satoshi Nakamoto, it has evolved into a wide range of applications. 


 While we couldn’t name them all, we could name the best and even the strangest of the few. 

1. Sexual Consent

Sexual Consent has been a big question mark in the age of the internet. A great percentage of teenagers and even adults are prone to sexual exploitation in the name of social media and even out in the real world. 


LegalThings is an Amsterdam based blockchain technology startup that works on digital contracts. Inspired by the #metoo movement, it has come up with an app called the LegalFlings. This app uses blockchain to record consent by users to engage in any form of sexual activity. This includes the sharing of consented pictures, information regarding an encounter with a person with an STD or even the usage of condom or any specific sexual wish. 


First off, a user requests permission from the other user and if they accept the request, the contract would be stored in the blockchain and stays tamper-proof. No more he said/she said stories could be entertained in the future. Crazy flings are all on now!!

2. Elections

Elections are the core and form the foundations of democracy. With increased corruption and blame on how people could easily tamper with the EVMs or print-based ballot systems, the emergence of a non-tamperable system was imminent. 


In 2018, West Virginia became the first state in the United States to allow blockchain-based voting possible. Though it was aimed to enable overseas voters to cast their votes far away from the mainland, it was able to solve not one, but two major voting predicaments. 

  1. Non-tamperable voting system
  2. The ability to cast your vote from anywhere in the world.

While these blockchain-based voting mechanisms could be a perfect ease alternative to the first world countries, they are absolute game changers for a great chunk of third world countries as well. Countries such as India, the world’s largest democracy, could shift, manage and painlessly conduct countrywide elections with great ease.

3. Insurance

The word Insurance and Risk have gone side by side for hundreds of years. What started as a risk-averse way for Babylonian seafaring merchants to secure their ships has now become a multi-trillion dollar a year industry.


Insurance up until now and still is mostly a paper-based record keeping industry. For a single claim or a new account, there is the need for tremendous paperwork, personnel and verification. As all of this is a human-driven process involving a lot of rubber stamping, the room for error is huge and very common.


World-renowned companies such as IBM, Deloitte, and KPMG have already begun to dominate the ecosystem with their immersive blockchains solutions for insurances. With blockchain's tamper-proof record keeping, the chance that anyone could try and fraud any insurance company is off the table. 


From fraud prevention to premium tracking and compensation assistance, blockchain could not just maintain and secure insurance records, but in-fact it could accelerate the entire process. All of these can be easily automated and done securely with the use of “smart contract”( digital contracts which are bound by certain parameters to verify, validate and enforce smooth transition of payments and work done)


Even with the progress, there are a lot of giants and new startups working to develop entire platforms that could support and even make blockchain a legal hurdle-less way of acquiring and enacting insurance. 

4. Identity Security

The world is rife with identity theft. The advent of the internet, if anything, has increased the possibility and perhaps even made it easier for your identity to be stolen or misused by miscreants. 

Also, to prove your identity, for the legality or otherwise, you are to provide a wide array of documents, signatures, photographs and whatnot. But blockchain promises to solve that as well.


As of now, IBM’s blockchain team is working on making blockchain-based identity, a reality. Once realized, you would be able to control a unique identity which can be used as a personal digital fingerprint to authorize, manage and validate your identity. You can not only use this digital ID for authentication but also control what aspect of your identity you wish to share with the other party. 


No more unnecessary paperwork or forgotten passwords that are just a simple rubber stamp away from destroying lives.


5. Real Estate

Real Estate record keeping is perhaps the first and foremost real-world application of the innovative Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) of a blockchain.


The ownership, title deeds and the authenticity of these papers are the key catalysts in defining the value of a property and validating the proof of ownership. Paperwork related to real estate is probably one of the most easily and commonly forged documents in the world next to Identity documents.


With the DLT, the title deeds, escrows and other information regarding a property and the transactions of the sale of a property can be easily encrypted and stored within a blockchain. They would be further encrypted and laid beneath a bunch of other sales. 


This information is highly secure, easily retrievable and most importantly, tamper-proof. With such strongly encrypted proof of ownership, you can kiss the risks of property ownership fraudulence goodbye.

6. Data Storage and Cloud Computation

Filled storage and pricey cloud storage are the new first world problems. With data storage becoming the next big question, blockchain seems to solve that as well. Blockchain could be the solution for very low priced and high-speed data storage as well. 


Look at it this way; Blockchain is a group of computers or devices connected and working towards storing information collectively. There is some room or space that is not used on many of these systems. The idea is to divide, encrypt and distribute data across these computers. 


In simple terms, all these computers would be storing some piece of information and not all. No one but only you can access this information. 


This works fine for cloud computing. You cannot expect a tiny computer to do loads of computing and work. Cloud computing essentially uses another computer present remotely, to process your data. But such cloud computation to requires a lot of data storage and this, in turn, becomes expensive.


For corporations or even small businesses which have to spend thousands and even millions of dollars just for storage and cloud computing, this could make a huge difference. The famous HBO series “Silicon Valley “ has had many seasons based on the same concept. This brings us to the very interesting next segment.

7. Decentralized Internet

Or also called as “The New Internet” by Richard Hendricks, the fictional CEO of the fictional company Pied Piper from the hit HBO series Silicon Valley. 


A decentralized internet is similar to the internet in every way, except that it would not be centralized nor be very openly insecure. Instead of flowing through a network of websites just talking to each other without proper security, they would be part of a secure blockchain.


Blockstack, a New-Jersey based blockchain startup which started in 2013 has been the basis of the idea behind the show “Silicon Valley”. Blockstack is acting as the world’s first decentralized internet and already has a host of apps ranging from email, office applications to social media, streaming sources etc.which are all based on blockchain.


Similar startups are springing up to give back control of the internet back to the people and the sole hero of this revolution is Blockchain. 


To understand this, let us quote Jared Dunn, the fictional COO of Pied Piper. “Manure”


Don’t worry, I’m not talking gibberish but rather talking about the great manure crisis of London. 


In the late 18th century, when London was thriving as a metropolis with horses as a main means of transport. The authorities of the city were scared that if the rate of urbanization increased, more people came in and this would mean more horses and in turn, more horse manure on the streets. They estimated that the city would be covered in about 6 feet of manure dung in the next 50 years if they cannot manage the waste. What they didn’t foresee was the invention or understand the impact of new technology. The car.


Overnight, the manure problem was solved. Similarly, the internet of today is filled with similar dung such as malware, spam, cybercrime etc. With blockchains decentralization, the fear of tampering or alteration of any kind of cyber threat could be eliminated easily.

8. Saving the Environment

As we mentioned in the beginning, blockchain may not outright save the environment, but it can easily make it a better place. The real-world applications of blockchain for the environment are still in the pilot stage but are yielding some great promise.


These applications range from decentralized and secure carbon credit systems to even automatic disaster management preparedness. 


IBM and Energy Blockchain Labs (a Chinese company) are in their initial phases of testing out a carbon credit management platform which will help companies and even countries keep track and credibly manage and trade with their carbon credits. This will keep the parties involved in the transaction transparent, honest and most importantly, responsible for their carbon credit spending or trade.


If gone mainstream, this could even revolutionize the way governments, corporations and even households would look at the environment and take very careful precautions with their carbon emissions.


While a lot of these would be involving a great deal of machine learning and big data applications, they would all begin with decentralized ledger technology (DLT) platforms.

9. Healthcare

Even with the most advanced diagnostics on the planet and with high experience, no doctor can give you the exact cure for an ailment. It is always something that someone tried before him/her or something that THEY believe can help you, for the best of their knowledge.


At the most, a single doctor may have treated a similar case (but not exact) in their whole career. He/she would combine their knowledge and their experience to draw out a treatment plan that THEY figure is the best course of action.


As it is, the chances of success are not always 100%.


Big data and Blockchain, together could probably phenomenally change the way doctors treat their patients.  Thanks to Blockchain, all of a patient's records can be stored in a decentralised system and shared among a network of medical professionals. These records are tamper-proof and cannot be altered in any way.

Now using big data, doctors can find patterns in old cases and thus use statistically proven courses of treatment.


Also, decentralizing medical records make it impossible to change any old records and thus solidifying a patient's medical history and their previous medication history as well. 

10. Supply Chain Management

One of the most strenuous tasks for any goods or commodity-based business or organization is the management of the supply chain. No matter how long you have been working with a vendor, trust is still of the essence when your end customer finally received the product.


Blockchain’s strong and secure smart contracts make sure that the supply chain process stays secure, on-time, transparent and most importantly, honest. The logic behind this is very simple.


Throughout the process of the supply chain, various digital contracts are created and set in place. These contracts would have the job to be done and attached to them is the payment. Once a vendor/driver/ any other person within the chain does their job, they receive an instant payment after the work is validated by the smart contract. 


This system is also being tested out for not just Supply Chain Management but also for smart hiring, buying, trading and various other applications making smart contracts one of the widespread applications of the blockchain.



Sources:

Source 1) https://thenextweb.com/code-word/2018/12/14/how-blockchain-technology-can-and-cant-prevent-sexual-assault/

Source 2) https://sos.wv.gov/FormSearch/Elections/Informational/West-Virginia-Mobile-Voting-White-Paper-NASS-Submission.pdf

Source  3) https://www2.deloitte.com/ca/en/pages/financial-services/articles/blockchain-in-insurance.html

Source  4) https://www.ibm.com/blockchain/solutions/identity 

Source  5) https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/financial-services/articles/blockchain-in-commercial-real-estate.html 

Source  6) https://www.researchgate.net/publication/319214742_Blockchain_Security_in_Cloud_Computing_Use_Cases_Challenges_and_Solutions 

Source  7) https://fortune.com/2018/06/08/blockchain-silicon-valley-new-internet-blockstack/ 

Source  8) https://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofBritain/Great-Horse-Manure-Crisis-of-1894/

Source  9) https://mediacenter.ibm.com/media/Energy+Blockchain+LabsA+facilitating+carbon+reduction+with+IBM+Blockchain/1_j1cot0z5z5

Source 10) https://www.ibm.com/blogs/blockchain/2018/12/what-are-the-use-cases-for-blockchain-tech-in-healthcare/

Source  11) https://www.capgemini.com/research/does-blockchain-hold-the-key-to-a-new-age-in-supply-chain-transparency-and-trust/


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