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The Research Nest

Industrial Applications of Blockchain and Career Opportunities

(Image courtesy: lastampa.it)

Blockchain’s implementation as cryptocurrency made headlines in May 2017 because of the WannaCry ransomware which used bitcoin as a medium to demand payment of ransom from victims it targeted. It is a fact that we are only aware of a limited (actually, only one) number of applications of blockchain i.e. cryptocurrency.

Surprisingly, blockchain technology has wide applications beyond cryptocurrency, which need to be acknowledged by everyone so that it can be used to its full potential.

Now the next question is, what are the other uses of blockchain? Before answering this, let us take a look at some cryptocurrecy-based implementations.

BitPesa

(Image courtesy: virtualmining.com)

In Africa, cryptocurrency has come to aid in the solving of issues in financial transactions. BitPesa is a bitcoin based startup application which offers in-app foreign exchange and business-to-business payment features. The app supports payment across 85 different countries including US and China and is believed to have considerably improved finance in Africa.

Riot Blockchain

The company which was earlier known as Bioptix is now listed on the NASDAQ exchange, making it the first purely blockchain focused public US stock. The company invests in blockchain with special focus on Bitcoin and Ethereum. Riot Blockchain hence serves as an indirect way to invest in cryptocurrency, via stock exchange.

Golem

The term ‘mining’ is frequently used in the world of cryptocurrency, which basically refers to mining cryptocurrency by connecting the user’s computer to a global network of computers and then solving complex algorithms to get cryptocurrency as reward. This subsequently forms a massive network of interconnected systems with large data centers. Golem distributes the power involved in mining to users who require massive computing power. For example, one can rent a single computer or a large data center through the Golem network to create a personal supercomputer.

Other implementations include OpenBazaar, Chronicled etc.

OTHER INDUSTRIAL APPLICATIONS OF BLOCKCHAIN:

1. Supply chains:

In the present scenario due of globalization, international supply chains, in some way or the other, affect every product we come across. Using Shipchain, which is an application of blockchain, a public ledger can be implemented that permanently documents every transaction that occurs. It will reduce the need for manual human input which will subsequently lessen errors and hence increase the efficiency. This will also add an extra layer of accountability that can be efficiently tracked and monitored by authorities. Since this may traditionally require a huge sum of money and energy, blockchain will play an important role in conserving such resources as well.

2. Insurance:

Blockchain is a transparent and a highly efficient system. Insurance is designed on the system of trust management. In such an establishment, there may be trust-breakers who manipulate policies and deceive people. Blockchain may either replace or empower the insurance sector so that transparency can be maintained.

3. Safety in self-driving cars:

Cyber security has been a persistent flaw in many of the upcoming technologies. Driver-less cars are the latest victims of cyber attacks. With advancements in blockchain technology, security threats to such vehicles can be eliminated. The decentralized method of distribution would make every single car on the road untouchable by any remote hacker.

So yes, the future of driver-less vehicles can be expected to be safe.

4. Internet Security:

(Image courtesy: bitcoin.stackexchange.com)

The icing on the cake in case of blockchain is the level of unsurpassed security it provides. This quality is especially relevant in a highly vulnerable internet world where attacks like DDOS, spam, hacks, etc. badly affect online businesses. One thing to note is that blockchain technology has a record of zero hacking history in the past ten years. It acts as a secure gateway in which no external agency can access the documentation that is maintained using the technology. Important data can be stored using blockchain. In case of legal contracts and such, use of blockchain prevents the need of any middlemen, which again makes it a secure system.

Blockchain as a Service (BaaS):

BaaS is a single entity which sets up all blockchain technology in an integrated manner. Paying for a BaaS means paying a company to set up all blockchain connected nodes. It basically does all the complex back end work of the required setup. In other words, it serves as an essential catalyst which can make other industries adopt blockchain technology with more ease and comfort.

One limitation of BaaS is that it adds some sort of centralization to blockchain which is ironical to the fact that it is essentially a decentralized form of technology.

There are other industries like music, gaming, manufacturing and distribution where implementation of blockchain technology can be expected in the future.

SO HOW TO GET STARTED?

IBM has undertaken fully-fledged research and development in the field of blockchain through an open source project known as Hyperledger, which is under The Linux Foundation.

Projects in blockchain are mainly built and written in C++. So, a good command on the language is required. There are online tutorials available to learn the fundamentals of blockchain technology, some of which are described below.

  • If one is a web developer, The Marmelab Blog can be referred to understand basic dynamics. It also gives hands-on sessions with Solidity, a programming language similar to JavaScript.
  • For C# programmers, ‘Blockchain Programming in C#’ is a book that can be used for gaining in-depth knowledge.
  • IBM blockchain 101 is a basic resource that can be referred for learning blockchain development. The coding languages used here are Go and Java.

There are many more online resources available nowadays to get started with this astounding technology. With blockchain being one of the emerging fields in the present, having a good grasp over its fundamentals will surely go a long way in escalating one’s value as a professional.

(This article was authored by Research Nest’s technical writer Meenakshi Mishra)

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