The year 2017 has admittedly been the most monumental one yet for the digital currency ecosystem. Most of the players within the space have enjoyed rampant growth especially through Q3 and Q4 of the year.
The industry started the year with only one crypto unicorn (valued at more than $1 billion), Bitcoin. The top ten players at the time held a cumulative value of about $17 billion. By the fourth quarter, the crypto unicorn list had grown to include a total of 30 cryptocurrencies worth almost $700 billion cumulatively.
Bitcoin, the first ever digital currency created by the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009, was the pioneer to this remarkable evolution. When it first came into existence, it was mainly intended to disrupt the financial sector. But with time, many more cryptocurrencies have emerged and use cases have extended far beyond the initial vision of the disruptive innovation.
It is for good reason that the blockchain technology has been referred to as the “second internet” as the two bear lots of similarities. The internet was initially set up as a communication tool with the email as its most prominent facet. But when protocol layers like the URL, HTTP and HTML were developed, its utility blew up overnight leading to infinite possibilities as to its applications.
Similarly, the blockchain’s structure as a distributed digital ledger was initially aimed at disrupting the commercial space. But with time, developers from all over the globe have come up with innovations based on its limitless functionality.
Let us look at some of the industries beyond the financial space that are making use of the blockchain technology’s potential to revolutionize various areas.
How is the Blockchain Technology Disrupting Various Industries?
E-commerce Platforms and Retail Stores
The current generation seems to have a preference for online shopping over its traditional alternative. This has given rise to a multitude of businesses taking advantage of the stable and relatively secure blockchain technology for their payment services.
The decentralized trust framework of the system makes it easier for clients to transact using blockchain utilities. Additionally, customers can use various digital currencies for their purchases on such platforms and they also enjoy lower transaction fees. Etsy, Overstock and Shopify are among outlets that accept payment in digital currencies. Entertainment
Various arms of the entertainment industry, for instance, music and movies, have been tremendous beneficiaries of the innovation. Artists have for a long time suffered under oppression from copyright violations, unfair revenue distribution, piracy and licensing issues.
To this end, there are startups within the blockchain industry that are offering better ways for artists to earn from their creativity without losing an unreasonable percentage to record companies. It is easier to track and verify ownership of creative work and smart contracts allow for easier licensing. BigchainDB is an example of a startup in this industry offering ownership verification services for artists.
Healthcare institutions face a significant challenge when it comes to data storage and sharing. Some use outdated infrastructure that many times makes them victims of hacking. The blockchain has offered a solution to this by making provisions for secure data storage and access.
It also eliminates the need for third-party intermediaries and offers a direct link between healthcare institutions and financial service providers.
There are major pain points in the traditional real estate transaction model that have been eased by blockchain technology. In many cases, buyers fear the lack of transparency, the possibility of fraud, paperwork and the expenses associated with getting legal assistance in the transactions.
The real estate industry in some parts of the world has taken advantage of the blockchain technology to offer better services. Such models allow for transparent records, tracking and transfer of title and property deeds. They enhance the verification process, accuracy and speed of transactions while also cutting down costs for customers.
Almost all arms of government are ripe for disruption and there are already some innovations to this end. Record-keeping, taxation, voting, and legislation are just a few of the examples of innovations being implemented in some countries.
In Dubai, the government is looking to put all government documentation on the blockchain by the year 2020. Brazil is considering a simplification of its voting processes and the transparency the blockchain technology could create. Moreover, there are startups offering solutions for law enforcement and police investigations as well as identity management.
Supply Chain Management
The blockchain’s inherent design makes it adept at enabling the monitoring of transactions securely and more transparently. This capacity places it at an advantage when it comes to the supply chain. It has made it possible for relevant parties to access information about the origin of food and other sensitive products.
This makes it easy to trace back contaminated or counterfeit goods to their source. It also allows for quality control during manufacturing processes and tracking products during transport till they get to their destination. The overall effect is the reduction in costs, delays, and human errors.
The capability of the blockchain technology to offer end-to-end encryption and enhanced privacy has made it possible to improve the legacy cybersecurity model. Data on the new model is not subject to any single point of failure and is also less prone to hacking or unauthorized tampering.
One of the essential features of the innovation is the absence of intermediaries. This eliminates the probability of corruption and human error in this sensitive domain. A startup known as Guardtime has created a Keyless Signature Infrastructure to tag and verify data transactions.
The Internet of Things
The blockchain technology has also allowed the creation of decentralized networks comprising IoT devices. Such systems can establish device communication without the need for a central mediating hub. This allows for easy management of bugs, software updates, maintenance and replacement of faulty parts.
Samsung and IBM are working on such a concept, referred to as Autonomous Decentralized Peer-to-Peer Telemetry (ADEPT) that allows for numerous applications of the IoT technology.
Looking to a Blockchain Future
The technological potential of the blockchain is still immense and the world has only scratched its surface. Applications will keep emerging to offer disruptions to legacy models and improve the quality of output from every possible industry. This will, in turn, result in a disruption of the quality of everyday life positively.