Having blockchain in a project’s technology stack is no longer a novelty. To really impress, you now have to prove that it does bring substantial value and benefits.
Blockchain tech is known to have the capacity to bring high transparency, security, and trustworthiness to business processes. Many companies have already saved time and money and increased their efficiency by launching blockchain projects.
Beyond cryptocurrency trading and finance, blockchain now influences a variety of industries from logistics to healthcare, art, media & entertainment, real estate, eSports, and more.
The year 2021 and all that follows promises to be an exciting time for blockchain. Bitcoin’s proliferation in payments and its recent volatility continue to impact markets and shape the entire crypto economy. At the same time, the launch of Ethereum 2.0 and the ambition of blockchain platform owners to bypass the scalability barrier are quite promising.
Numerous opportunities arise from the growing DeFi market and its advanced applications for borrowing, lending, funding, and trading. Businesses that have been disappointed in centralized financial instruments are actively investing in blockchain-powered projects.
Read on to find out more about the most promising blockchain projects, the major platforms, and the businesses that are taking advantage of these revolutionary tools.
The recent success of blockchain projects
According to a MarketsandMarkets report, the global blockchain market is expected to grow from $3 billion in 2020 to $39.7 billion by 2025. This exponential growth stems not only from cryptocurrency trading but also from the development and use of decentralized apps.
The FinTech industry is the apparent leader according to the number of transactions and deals made. Blockchain is very popular in infrastructure solutions and cybersecurity applications as well.
One of the leading sectors is supply chain management. A variety of projects recently appeared that allow companies to track and trace their goods from manufacturer to point of sale. Seeing the transportation path of items in real time gives business owners the opportunity to pinpoint and cut out inefficiencies.
Healthcare is another avenue for blockchain improvements. Several new projects have been launched that provide a better way of storing and extracting medical history data. Patients now have easier access to their records and can easily share them with medical experts in a secure manner.
Other novel ways of using blockchain include original content protection, tracking royalty payments, and maintaining a secure personal identity. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and related projects have also been gaining a lot of traction, shining an even bigger spotlight on blockchain technologies.
Top blockchain platforms
Blockchain platforms serve as the foundation for running decentralized applications. The platforms provide an underlying blockchain network that serves as data storage and supports the transactions made by users. Every blockchain platform has its own unique features that can be beneficial for certain types of projects.
Let’s take a look at the blockchain platforms currently dominating the market.
Ethereum is a well-established general-purpose blockchain platform. It ranks second after Bitcoin in terms of popularity and mainstream use by the crypto community. It also takes after Bitcoin by offering the same high level of decentralization. Ethereum’s top differentiator is its advanced smart contract capabilities which make it a top blockchain platform for decentralized app development.
Developers use the platform to create dApps for the financial market, blockchain games, crypto wallet applications, and more. Ethereum lures them in with its large community and expansive documentation with guides covering almost every use case.
Most of the products in the up-and-coming world of DeFi now run on Ethereum. Having a long history of serving the crypto community, Ethereum has built up an impressive infrastructure and connected system of services provided through decentralized apps. That’s why most creators go with building dApps on Ethereum, wanting their users to have access to its large ecosystem.
Echo is a blockchain platform used to create decentralized apps with ties to both Bitcoin and Ethereum. Bitcoin is known for its high liquidity, but its network does not provide the tools for dApp development. Echo’s architecture is meant to solve this problem by providing sidechains for both Bitcoin and Ethereum networks.
When transferring coins from one network to another, coins are locked on the original chain and the corresponding amount of equivalent coins is created on Echo’s network. This process is reversed upon withdrawal. This way, by having connections between the two most prominent blockchain networks, Echo enables the building of decentralized apps with Bitcoin as the native currency.
The platform is developer-friendly and lets you choose from a variety of supported coding tools, including Solidity, the most popular language. Echo is also designed to support millions of users and avoid Ethereum’s scalability issues. It does this by employing a rapid-speed proof of weighted randomness consensus model where a new group of block producers is selected for each new set of transactions.
Polkadot is quite an interesting blockchain project. The platform was designed to feature an interconnected network of application-specific subchains and also enable interoperability with other blockchain networks. The subchains are responsible for delivering the application logic and functionality and are plugged into a single base chain. The base chain delivers Polkadot’s consensus and voting logic.
Such a unique architecture design makes Polkadot a prime platform for connecting private, public, consortium, and permissionless networks into one ecosystem. Partnered blockchains can operate independently, yet have the opportunity to exchange information and carry out cross-chain transactions in a secure and private manner.
Hyperledger Fabric is the platform of choice for enterprise projects because of the granular privacy features it provides. Its key feature is its modular architecture that gives blockchain network owners the ability to incorporate the plug-and-play components they need.
Hyperledger works well in closed corporate environments where access to data is prohibited outside the organization but there’s a management need for decentralization within. Its open smart contracts model is good for maintaining internal affairs.
The platform allows managers to assign permissions and isolate certain transactions for data privacy. Private data collections can be created to share information with authorized groups or specific users.
The Flow platform was created by the CryptoKitties project owner, Dapper Labs, to battle Ethereum’s scalability problem. Because of its friendly interface, low fees, and high transaction rate, the platform has become very popular amongst NFT creators.
The NFT craze has allowed Flow to legitimize itself and become one of the most promising startup blockchain projects. NBA Top Shot, a sports collectibles marketplace launched on Flow, instantly caught everyone’s eye. The marketplace has garnered over $30 million in collectible sales.
Flow’s owners plan to create a ‘fully open, on-chain virtual metaverse’. This means that the state of the blockchain will be available as a whole for any developer to access and build on it. All tokens will be able to openly interact and be combined for use in transactions. At the same time, smart contracts could be built on top of other contracts to support more complex logic.
How to choose a blockchain platform?
The choice of the right platform for your blockchain projects strongly depends on the intended use cases. Asking yourself a few questions in advance could help guide you in the right direction.
Questions to ask yourself:
- Do you have some information that needs to be kept private? Most blockchains are meant to be decentralized and will publicly share all information across the network’s nodes, so there’s no tampering with data. Some companies, however, would not want to share information with all their users, but provide granular access to those involved in certain transactions. Hyperledger networks, for instance, work very well for these situations.
- Do you need your platform to interact with other blockchains? There’s no standard in building blockchains, nor is there a system that connects them all together. Having their own unique architecture and features, dApps from one platform can’t interact with dApps from another. However, some blockchains have introduced bridges that enable cross-chain transactions. Echo and Polkadot are good examples here.
- How critical are fees and transaction speeds for your project? Blockchain transactions are known to be slower than traditional payment systems. It’s the price you pay for decentralization. At the same time, transaction fees vary from platform to platform and are known to be volatile. Ethereum fees have recently skyrocketed to tens of USD. Platforms like Flow and Binance, on the other hand, offer much lower rates.
Some inspiring blockchain projects
We’ve mentioned that blockchain applications are no longer limited to finance. Recent breakthrough projects tackle issues that would never have been seen as blockchain prospects. Let’s take a look at some projects that inspire us to push the boundaries even further.
The Butterfly project aims to provide a decentralized alternative to the current internet domain and namespace regulators. It is meant to free the internet from censorship and centralized control. Domains can be purchased once, using cryptocurrency, and be forever registered under that person’s ownership, without the need to pay yearly fees.
The blockchain world and the crypto economy are quite scattered at the moment. There are a few bridges here and there, but mostly it can be hard to navigate. The Butterfly project is the foundation of a robust interconnected ecosystem of all things decentralized.
Butterfly lets creators forge their own community-based forums in decentralized media and entertainment without fear that they will be pulled down or silenced.
In the case of domain names, this means users can purchase and own domains and subdomains to showcase their work, provide services to others, and even use it as their personal social media.
OriginStamp is a blockchain project that allows users to protect the originality of documents. After a document is uploaded into the system, it is timestamped and recorded on the immutable blockchain ledger. So there is absolutely no way it can be tampered with.
The project supports a variety of platforms from where you can upload a document, including Google Drive, Microsoft One Drive, and others. The OriginStamp team recently expanded the project to provide timestamps for other digital assets, including audio recordings, photos, video, and more. The decentralized app allows you to upload files in bulk and create timestamps for multiple documents at the same time.
By using OriginStamp, companies can easily keep track of their databases, upload various types of data, and link it all together logically.
GrainChain is a blockchain solution that offers complete traceability of goods within agricultural supply chains. The platform provides reliable data on the product’s origins for merchants and suppliers and also streamlines payment processes.
There’s quite a lot of players involved in an agricultural supply chain, so uniting them under one decentralized roof seems to be a logical way forward. GrainChain’s platform provides the specific tools and apps necessary for each user type.
Aside from providing traceability and ensuring the quality of delivered goods, the project also helps farmers and producers. It allows them to authenticate the quality of their products and demand increased price margins for their work. GrainChain covers every link in the supply chain and rewards participants based on their contributions.
Top brands using blockchain projects
Global enterprises and corporations continue to use their R&D processes to create new and exciting blockchain applications. Giants such as AT&T, Walmart, and Shell have already rolled out their blockchain projects with tangible results.
AT&T uses blockchain to prove the authenticity of its products while accelerating delivery. In its healthcare department, the company works on creating services to secure the sharing of patient records.
Shell is working with blockchain technology partners to create a platform that will streamline crude oil trading and settlement. Walmart relies on blockchain technology to resolve any food traceability concerns.
Let’s see which other major brands have realized the transformative power of blockchain technology. Below are those that have recently hit our radar and still remain in our line of sight.
The BMW luxury automobile brand is using blockchain technology to track vehicle components, parts, and materials. Together with Honda and Ford, the company is also part of the Mobile Open Blockchain Initiative which aims to benefit car manufacturers and enhance their operations.
Recently BMW also launched a vehicle digital identity blockchain project. Its goal is to track every event throughout a vehicle’s lifecycle from the moment it was manufactured to its purchase at the dealership and then to everyday maintenance by the car’s owner.
This project can potentially bring value to every party involved in the process. The driver could opt to share information on the vehicle’s performance and their own driving experience. A blockchain database could record location, time, speed, engine, chassis, and brake parameters.
Manufacturers can use the data to improve the design of their parts. At the same time, maintenance services will have all the information they need to troubleshoot issues.
General Electric’s aviation department is actively using blockchain technology to create a digital trail for airplane engines and parts. Every engine or part gets its own digital profile which records its history from the manufacturing process to maintenance records, to the moment it’s disassembled from a plane.
This project has solved a very important problem since airplane parts without certified documentation are very hard to dispose of or sell back into the market. So General Electric, just like any other aviation company, had to store this orphaned inventory in a special warehouse. Now, using blockchain, they can avoid retired engines and parts sitting unused in storage facilities.
The leading online search engine, Google, has integrated the Chainlink blockchain analytics platform into its BigQuery data warehouse service. This union allows blockchains to make use of external data stored outside the network. It also leads to mutual benefits as Google’s service gets access to transactional data.
The integration will see traditional finance data like interest rates and prices being used in blockchain smart contracts. Ultimately, it will make processing future contracts and settling speculative bets much easier. At the same time, Chainlink will add another layer of protection, increasing the overall privacy and security of transactions.
Google has already launched a set of tools that will make blockchain data fully searchable on BigQuery.
Honeywell has launched a blockchain-powered marketplace for aerospace parts and equipment. It collects information about aircraft parts from various sources and presents it to potential customers on the platform. Using blockchain allows them to aggregate information that often comes from competing market players, and keeps it private.
Honeywell actually went on to further develop the project after receiving positive feedback from the aerospace and aviation community. After carefully examining the activities performed by experts in the airline, defense, and related markets, they’ve come up with a new concept. The company’s new developing project is aimed to provide an integrated dynamic solution with flight scheduling and planning features.
Top ideas for new blockchain projects in 2021 and beyond
While some trends fade like the once-popular ICOs, other new uses of blockchain technology emerge to conquer the market. Continuously working on innovative blockchain projects every year, we have our own take on which types of projects are most likely to succeed.
Take a look at our list of top blockchain project ideas for 2021.
Crowdfunding and fundraising with smart contracts and STO
Most startups today either fail, delay delivery, or don’t provide the expected return on investment. Crowdfunding campaigns suffer from accountability and trust issues. Sometimes the invested money even ends up in the wrong hands or serves money laundering operations.
A well-designed blockchain-powered fundraising solution could win over this market. By introducing security tokens as an instrument for investment, you can assure your contributors that they won’t lose funds. The tokens could be withdrawn or traded at a decentralized exchange.
In addition, smart contracts can be introduced to lock the funds and release them with interest only when the campaign is concluded. The terms are programmed in code and cannot be tampered with or changed without mutual consent.
In most countries, digital voting has long replaced paper-based methods, however, people still express their doubts about the fairness of the system. Governments accuse each other of cyberattacks while hackers from each side of the political divide find ways to infiltrate their rival’s digital defenses. Other more oppressive regimes may falsify voting results in their favor.
Other than blockchain, there’s hardly any software out there that could bring complete transparency into voting and elections. With the right design and architecture, a blockchain project can establish the grounds for publicly verifiable elections. Users could place their votes using utility tokens and follow the process live on their mobile devices.
Decentralized peer-to-peer ridesharing
Blockchain and the sharing economy are almost like twin brothers. These fresh new concepts often go hand-in-hand. All carpooling services are controlled by the often unwelcome middlemen – the owners themselves. Uber and other agencies often go over the top to favor their clients and abuse the drivers. They are also keen to impose new policies and restrictions.
A blockchain-based ridesharing service will allow passengers and drivers to connect directly, without relying on third parties. With the right design and features, the project can provide safe and reliable transportation, equally beneficial for both drivers and riders.
Ubiquitous customer loyalty
Companies today are in a constant fight for their customers’ affection and loyalty. Rewarding customers with loyalty points that grant access to discounts and special offers is common practice. But there is, however, room for improvement. An interconnected system of loyalty and rewards that would erase the boundaries between different brands is the next step.
Blockchain technology could be used to implement a loyalty ecosystem, so to speak, with different brands interacting with the unified goal of engaging with customers. Loyalty points from one store owner or service provider could be used to pay for goods or services from another. Store owners and service providers could even create joint campaigns and create quests for their clients.
Blockchain projects have become very progressive and provide innovative solutions to known challenges in the industry. Most of them propose making all data publicly available and erasing boundaries for sharing information. This boundless transparency, however, sometimes comes with a price.
Large corporations must beware of giving up too much control over their data and technology. It might sometimes result in going out of business or being taken over by competitors. It’s important to keep in mind the mechanics of blockchain technology, cryptocurrencies, and smart contracts.
In most cases, consulting with an experienced blockchain partner can give you the right perspective, provide insights, and produce enough tailwind to move forward.
Make your assessments, weigh up all the options, but don’t let doubts and concerns drive you away from the market. Remember, it’s the first-mover advantage that is the greatest ingredient for a project’s success.