Most media outlets advocating for or against blockchain focus primarily on the case of cryptocurrencies. Over the past couple of years, cryptocurrencies have made more headlines than ever before. This is particularly due to the volatility in the price of the most popularly known cryptocurrency, Bitcoin. However, to pin Bitcoin or cryptocurrencies as the embodiment of blockchain technology is akin to pinning email as the sole use case for the Internet. An alternative to mainstream fiat currencies is merely a single implementation of the potential for integrating a blockchain system. Below are 5 game-changing implementations of blockchain that most people wouldn’t immediately consider.
IT and Cybersecurity
Beyond just a currency, blockchain is a security protocol. It is a digital ledger that is immutable and essentially unhackable. Even big-name companies like Equifax, Target, and Yahoo have had data breaches in recent years that have led to the public dissemination of private information from millions of their users. The evolution of technology affects both sides of the spectrum; as security measures are refined, so too are the methods of hacking becoming more and more specialized to breach these security walls.
Blockchain-backed security provides a way of recording transactions, or any digital interaction, in a way that is secure, transparent, highly resistant to outages, auditable, and efficient. Organizations like Kodak, Lockheed Martin, and even the US Department of Defense are studying the advantages that blockchain offers in protecting critical intellectual property.
Possibly one of the most critical needs for greater security is in our networking applications. Messaging platforms are now the primary means of communication for most users. Calls and SMS messages are now a secondary alternative. By default, messages are usually sent through platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Line, Telegram, WeChat, Instagram, or other such platforms. Occasionally, these messages may include private or sensitive documents, pictures, or recordings that the user trusts won’t be released to the general public. As such, it is imperative to implement encryption algorithms on top of higher security layers, like a blockchain, so that even in the event of a security breach the data is impossible to decrypt.
Finance and Accounting
Accounting is the textbook case study for a business field that can benefit significantly from blockchain technology. Tax codes are overwhelmingly complex and need the utmost precision and accuracy. Blockchain’s transparency allows for visibility to all transactions for approved users. This may decrease auditors’ work with sampling and validating transactions, allowing them to focus on controls and investigating anomalies.
Further, blockchain is having a significant effect on finance. Cross-border payments are complex with today’s banking infrastructure. The use of a shared digital ledger to record and verify transactions simplifies the entire process. The benefits for this model are numerous, including faster processing speeds (transferring money between countries in seconds, not days) and immensely lower transaction fees.
Similarly, blockchain is an effective tool for identity verification and management. The technology decreases the incidence of money laundering and other such criminal financial activities.
The healthcare system, particularly in the US, has been the subject of a lot of controversy in recent years. Blockchain could be the solution to this, as it provides a more efficient method for maintaining the integrity of medical records.
These records include the basic information of the patient as well as their medical history. Once these have been created and signed, by both the patient and their doctor, the information can be written into the blockchain to guarantee it cannot be tampered with. The authenticity of medical records is pivotal in caring for patients and upholding justice in legal cases that involve health care services.
Blockchain can facilitate the process of consent management. The medical procedures a patient has consented to can be put on the blockchain where it can be accessed by anyone with the necessary permissions. The blockchain can also be used to track and reward patients who keep their appointments, stay healthy, and contribute their data to further clinical research.
Advertising and Marketing
Blockchain technology boosts credibility in marketing and public relations. It can aid PR firms in determining whether clicks and mentions on social media are from humans or bots. Companies that receive genuine human engagement are better positioned to improve customer loyalty and provide improved products and services. Companies that do not use blockchain technology in their marketing efforts may have less valid statistics.
Juniper Research anticipates advertisers will lose an estimated $19 billion to fraudulent activities in 2019. This figure represents advertising on online and mobile devices. These losses are projected to reach as high as $44 billion by 2022. Blockchain systems can help dramatically reduce “click fraud,” ensuring marketing and advertising executives can reach their target markets.
The principles of blockchain, historically developed as a prevention to banking fraud, can be applied to programmatic media buying by using the system to monitor and govern budget spend. Advertisers can track investment from the initial transfer of the media budget to the final publication of creative with the media owner. This preventative measure can help in reducing the risk of overcharging and underperformance.
Blockchain technology can serve as a validator for PR firms to guarantee the originality of their press releases and social media posts. It also helps companies to publish their content across social media platforms and having a digital ledger with unreleased content may also improve content management. Companies can track all changes made to their records as well as the people who make them.
These 5 examples of alternative blockchain implementation are only the beginning. Countless other cases are arising and ongoing projects are helping to pave the way towards a wider adoption. The next few years will form the foundation for the future of this novel technology and with further advancements in other tech sectors the possibilities for more efficient and reliable systems are limitless.