How to Identify a Blockchain Use Case

With yet another yearly Hype-cycle in Blockchain, more people, and even enterprises are attempting to solve technology’s next host of problems. However, with a lack of quality blockchain education, and many overzealous “Blockchain Enthusiast” who don’t quite take the time to read a white paper or two, (still) early mainstream adopters are left with many more questions than answers.

The biggest of those questions? How can I change the world with Blockchain? How can I make the next big thing? How can I determine when to use Blockchain?

From my experience, and from learning more about budding blockchain technologies like Filecoin, Storj, OmiseGO, Plasma, and other use cases that investigate blockchain in the context of non-profit, insurance, and financial applications, I’ve found that there is a trend use case for when a blockchain is needed:

  • A blockchain must be used as a transactional settlement record and immutable proof of the solution’s overlying transactions — whether that “transaction” is storing data, sending money, or shipping something. Note, that transactions do not just encompass financial operations — any action that causes an effect between 2 + n parties is a “transaction”
  • Any use case that needs a blockchain must be a process that currently requires middlemen entities to transact between parties, or provide a (centralized) third party service to a client
  • Any use case that needs a blockchain must be one that operates in a broader environment where there exists a low amount of trust between parties (one that can benefit from ‘trustless consensus’ amongst involved parties)
  • Any use case that needs a blockchain must be one that leverages a transactional assumption between parties (i.e. a client assumes that after they pay the producer, the client will receive some service) — so that there is a need for automated transparency on a viewable and referenceable settlement
  • Any use case that needs a blockchain will perform more rapidly and more securely with blockchain implementation that the current state (must at least be an operational improvement)

Of course, this use case checklist continues to evolve as more novel applications are developed, but it serves to enforce the most helpful (and accountability based) features that blockchain introduced to the world — decentralized consensus, immutable settlement transparency, and the potential for trustless environments to thrive.

What are your thoughts? How do you appropriately identify when to use Blockchain technology?