What is Blockchain
A blockchain is a form of record-keeping distribution within a decentralized digital ledger that is secured by hash encryptions. Composed of three main parts, the previous hash, the transaction information, and the next block’s hash, all parts connected generate a ‘block’. A hash is an encrypted key that is utilized to maintain the block’s linear order, the chain.
After a transaction occurs, whether it be an asset, money, or shares, the transaction is verified, and then generated into a block, in which it is secured with a hash for the previous and next block. The idea was initially thought of by Stuart Haber and Scott Stornetta in 1991, and the peer-to-peer network utilizing the idea was enacted by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008 within the bitcoin cryptocurrency platform.
Originally created for trading valued cryptocurrency in a secure manner, the system has evolved to be utilized for various things ranging from benefiting protection of intellectual property all the way to improving supply chain management. Utilized mainly for cryptocurrency transactions in today’s day and age, the blockchain system has the potential to revolutionize various industries through providing complex encryption, efficiency, and transparency within respective industries.
Blockchain in Real Estate
With the ever-growing population in the world comes the increased desire and need for land. The real estate industry deals hand-in-hand with this demand. As it stands in the industry currently, traditional methods for recordkeeping are invalid and hinder industry growth in the real estate world. Varying from business to business, there is a plethora of different record-keeping procedures ranging from paper to digitally centralized data. Another problem encountered in real estate is the inefficient operation of moving and trading assets due to inefficient record storage. This, in turn, produces a higher cost of operation and increases the risk of error between agencies. The arrival of blockchain in real estate can allow for the reduction of these problems and continue to progress the ever-growing real estate market.
Recordkeeping, organizational asset management, and financing will all be revised for the greater good with the introduction of blockchain. Starting off with transparent recordkeeping, the digitalization of real estate documents such as land titles and deeds will allow for increased trust between organizations due to an immutable ledger and increased efficiency because of immediate access to vital documents. Conjoined with increased organizational trust, tokenization, which is the ability to assign assets to tokens, will allow for easy asset management in the real estate. Through the creation of settlement arrangements, assigning of land titles, or even asset distribution, blockchain provides the ability to conduct all these in a swift universal and authenticated manner due to its decentralized system. Coupled with increased efficiency due to the implementation of tokenization, real estate agencies would additionally see reduced operating costs and increased productivity because of this innovation. With the use of fully-functioning land registries in foreign countries such as Sweden that utilize blockchain technology, it is easily predictable to see the equivalent emergence of real estate blockchain companies in the United States within the next couple of years.
Blockchain in Supply Chain Management
Logistical management can be a tricky task and possibly result in mishandled products, inefficient operations, and problematic trading settlements. Consisting of eight modular components, planning, information, source, inventory, production, location, transportation, and return of goods, there is vast room for error in the supply chain of management. When something goes amiss in the system, many times it’s hard to communicate the origin of the error due to the multitude of components, which as a result, can alter consumer goods or company finances. The proficient combination of all these components can be achieved through the utilization of a blockchain system.
Through the enhanced capabilities of a blockchain system, product information and data storage would be reconstructed to provide positive conclusive results. Opposing the problem of conflict origin, a blockchain system would be able to retain specific product information such as product-identity, shelf-life, and delivery location and time, allowing for a manager to pinpoint any additional faults in the physical counterpart of the system. Conjoined with increased transparency of products along the chain management system, a blockchain logistics system ensures secure traceability. Through taking advantage of tokenization within a blockchain, the ability to assign assets or value to a block can allow for a wide range of trading opportunities including exchanges of products, stocks, and share-holding stakes. Through the introduction of blockchain technology, the supply chain management system will be able to be efficiently streamlined from one application, in which a person would be able to manage product security, information, and value.
Blockchain in Digital Identity
Personal identity is supposed to be personal. Supposed to. In this day and age technology has allowed us to advance in a variety of ways that were once unimaginable. Unfortunately, at the cost of vast advancements in technology, has come the commercialization of our persons. Our data is constantly being used and sifted around the internet without our permission. Names, emails, numbers, or even credit cards have been added to a digital centralized profile for commercial organizations to use to their advantage. With a large amount of information needed to proceed to use certain services whether it be giving an email, name, or social security number, has come the increased risk of it being used against us. Identity theft, improper usage of private information, and erroneous security are all critical points that unnecessarily put people's digital identity at risk.
Through the implementation of blockchain technology in the digital world, people can put the ‘personal’ back in personal-identity in order to manage their private information accurately. Through utilizing blockchains to create a digital profile, a person can easily access and control where their information goes. This is done through peer-to-peer verification of transactions, in this case, a transaction would be the usage of our personal information between companies, in the digital world. While managing all of a person's own private information, they have complete access and control over who sees and uses their information as well as tracking where it goes. In conjunction with a blockchain’s decentralized system, all private information is encrypted, and cannot be decrypted without given permission from the person who owns it. With these procedures in order, the abuse of personal information for commercial gain should become nonexistent without given consent, and identity theft or improper usage of a person's private information would become trackable or impossible to do. With security scandal’s concerning consumer data being extremely prevalent in today’s society, it is more than likely to see the implementation of blockchain procedures to further protect consumer’s digital data.
Blockchain in Voting
Voting serves as a fundamental process towards the foundation of democracy itself, it serves the imperative importance of electing people capable of making a change in the world. Due to the fact that any single vote carries extreme weight, every vote should be critically monitored and verified for the value it possesses. Especially now more than ever, due to the fact that 2018 had the most voter turnout for the midterm election since 1914, according to the US Elections Project. Although security should presumably be at an all-time high surrounding voters ballots, it appears to be quite the opposite. Voter security as it stands right now is vulnerable, defunct, and illegitimized. These vulnerabilities have existed for years and have still yet to be addressed. As a matter of fact, the created solution for incorporating a touch screen and paper ballot machine for voting has only created more problems such as unverified voting and undervoting. This is where blockchain technology steps in with its digital ledger that proves to be immutable and incorruptible.
As it stands voting ballots can be produced from a variety of methods including optical scanners, electronic systems, punch cards, and hybrid computer-paper systems. Not only does each type carries its own faults and problems, but as a whole, it proves to be widely inefficient due to the wide-ranging possibilities of voting. This initial security fault can be circumvented by only using blockchain to register a person’s vote. In conjunction with the blockchain’s digital ledger, a voter would be able to have their vote timestamped, verified, and submitted all from a phone or application. The need for middleman operations such as schools or public libraries, will no longer need to provide their unique voting balloting techniques, and in turn, efficiency will increase due to the universally used method of a blockchain. Not only does blockchain improve security and efficiency, it will also increase voter apathy. In a study conducted by the Washington Post, it was shown that voting stations were selected based off of prior peak voting history. Coupled with other combinations of unavailability to vote such as busy schedules or prohibiting laws, the introduction of a blockchain voting system would drastically increase voter turnout. The ability to cast a secure vote from a device or application would allow anyone from anywhere to provide their vote. With the upcoming 2020 election for the presidency, it wouldn’t be too far from reality to see an experimental blockchain voting system tested for the election.
Blockchain in Healthcare
At its current state, the healthcare industry is drastically struggling to become more efficient and cooperative due to ongoing digital-territorial wars surrounding the battle for possession of electronic medical or health records for commercial gain. Blockchain combats these centralized data systems that obstruct proper data regulation and compatibility amongst several varying health facilities such as, but not limited to, hospital, pharmacist, and urgent care. With proper utilization of blockchain technology, the medical field is open to vast advancements that will greatly propel the future of universally efficient medical aid.
Filling out paperwork more than once would be a thing of the past, with the introduction of blockchain into the medical records field, a person has the ability to share their medical identity wherever they please. A medical identity, which contains a person’s medical history ranging from past visits all the way to blood work, would be immensely beneficial due to enhanced security, efficiency, and innovation. Through usage of a decentralized database, data protection and patient privacy is at an all time high; this is exemplified through blockchain technology that prohibits the authentication of faulty medical data in conjunction with a patient’s control of what is made visible by the facility with their medical profile. In addition to security, the peer-to-peer characteristic of blockchains allows for the removal of third party commercial enterprises and allows for the decentralization of medical data. In turn, all medical records and information of a patient can be accessible, if granted permission, from anywhere at any time and this allows for easy access to verified information in which it also reduces the need for duplicate medical testing of a patient. Lastly, the innovative nature of blockchain paves the way for incentivization of this new system through smart contracts, a payment in some form for completion of a task within a blockchain, which can motivate medical patients to continuously use their prescribed medication. It’s highly evident that the healthcare industry will greatly benefit from blockchain technology through enhancements of performance and privacy.
Blockchain in Food and Drink Regulation
With the introduction of genetically modified food, consumers have seen increased worry and suspicions surrounding the information of a food’s ‘journey’. In accordance with a US study conducted by the Food Marketing Institute, the US has seen a 75% increase in a consumer’s demand for more product knowledge. Most concerns stem from a food’s origin and pesticide exposure in its lifespan. This is due to ongoing concerns for potential disease contamination, disgust of product manipulation, and improper knowledge surrounding the process. In addition to concerns surrounding food traceability, initiatives to apply transparency to drinks such as alcohol and coffee have been acted upon, as exemplified by Starbucks and the whiskey brand Alisa Bay releasing tracking options for their products. These attempts have been made possible by blockchain.
Diving into the details surrounding blockchains applications into the tracking world of foods and drinks includes a variety of beneficial information. Coupled with open transparency to consumers, the average person would be able to view a product’s farm origin, what pesticides have been used on it, where it has traveled to, how it was transported, and many more informative details along the supply chain. These informative details not only support the consumer in knowledge but benefit corporations in combating fraudulent recordings. In a study conducted by Juniper Research, it has been found that through the implementation and utilization of blockchain, there will be $31 billion dollars in savings due to preventing counterfeit food bank records. Although the utilization of blockchain systems in the food industry is limited, I believe it will greatly expand in the coming years as consumers become more invested in the information surrounding their perishable goods.
Blockchain in Intellectual Property
Singers, writers, designers, and many other creators are at a constant uphill battle of content management. Even with multiple protection laws that can be applied through patents, copyrights, and trademarks, there is an ongoing complication of being able to monitor the content that is being misused or unfairly profited from. Coupled with middleman distribution, in which companies take a large cut of a creator’s original revenue, creators also lose out on vast profits due to pirating and inefficient content management procedures. The use of blockchain for music monetization is not a new one, in fact, it provides a positive precedent for blockchain technology benefiting its the original creator. With that being said, the usage of blockchain for protecting other works of art is limitless, which is why I believe that heading into the future, content protection for various other works of art will be conducted through blockchain companies.
Unlike traditional routes through utilizing a middleman in the distribution of creative works, blockchain technology follows a sole proprietorship approach in the creative world. By providing a decentralized platform with a digitized ledger, the ability for a creator to actively protect and maintain content sharing has never been easier. Exemplified through any blockchain company, a creator would be provided with a certificate of authenticity, further enlightening any other users on the peer-to-peer network of original creation for a work of art. With easy access to any information surrounding a piece of work, such as ownership percentage, founder identity, and product tracking, blockchain in the creative industry would be a major breakthrough; By providing full revenue dedicated to the owner, easy content management and security, and content transparency concerning relevant information.
Blockchain in Banking and Finance
Banking and finances are key components of our fundamental way of life. The ability and need to pay for everything from a banana to a mansion exemplify the bigger picture surrounding economics. Of course, consumers have little insight into what happens behind the scenes. When operating with banks and fiat currency, people are engaged in a centralized financial system. The problem with centralized banking systems is the narrow scope they offer in terms of informational availability, efficiency, and security. A blockchain decentralized financial system combats the banking system’s outdated native form by offering transparency, accessibility, and surveillance.
A bank can involve cash, debit cards, credit cards, loans, and many more forms of payment that all involve lengthy transaction processes. A decentralized system completely eradicates this lengthy process by removing the necessity for a middleman. Granting the consumer full access to financial information, the need for a bank would no longer be fundamental to a person's economic lifestyle. With the discharge of banks, the mediator, a blockchain financial user would have total access to viewing transactions which reduces the risk of error for faulty payment charges. In addition to transparency, the ability to store financial assets on a secured encrypted blockchain network would drastically reduce the occurrence of fraudulent financial activity. Keeping efficiency in mind, the immediate transactional behavior that a blockchain system produces allows for a variety of beneficial opportunities. One pivotal opportunity being the ability to instantaneously transfer funds internationally with little to no charge. As it stands now, the ability to transfer funds to family, loved ones, or anyone internationally requires an extended lengthy and unreliable process that is inefficient in which it can take anywhere from days or weeks for a payment to be received. A blockchain removes this flawed process allowing for loved ones to receive payments within hours of the transaction being completed. As clearly exemplified, the implementation of a decentralized blockchain financial system could prove to benefit society in a variety of ways. I believe it will become more formally introduced in the coming years due to experimental applications surrounding the technology existing now.
Blockchain in eSports and Sports
While the sports industry has maintained itself for hundreds of years, the eSports industry has just begun to sprout. With gradual viewings immensely growing over a 7 year period on various streaming platforms such as Twitch, the viewership is only predicted to keep growing. While the sports industry has matured over time and has discovered ways to manage finances, rules, and statistics, the eSports scene is relatively new and is still emerging and evaluating different methods of operations ranging from different games. With that being said, both industries can still heavily benefit from the usage of blockchains in the overall management of both scenes, and will likely see these technological improvements within the next five years.
Although different from each other, sports and electronic sports retain similar audiences and are operated similarly from a financial and directive standpoint. Both industries benefit greatly from crowdfunding which proves to contribute to organizational growth and campaign funding surrounding development of programs, initiatives, and projects. The problem with crowdfunding in these respective industries is the usage of a middleman whether it be sports, tournament, or league organizers that take a large percentage cut dedicated to the original team or organization. For example, in 2018 the NFL made around $16 billion dollars, with only 50% of the total revenue being distributed to the organizations, and even less to the players who makeup the team. The implementation of a blockchain would result in direct funding to the people who need it, such as the players, coaches, and managers on both sports and electronic sports teams; it would also negate the need for a middleman, such as the NFL, which would allow for an increased amount of money dedicated towards the involved people. Another problem constantly engaged in both sports scenes is PED use. From drug scandals ranging from drug usage by Lance Armstrong to adderall usage from the professional esports CS: GO Cloud9 team, it’s evident that it needs to be erected in a more secure manner. Blockchains allow for transparent legal documents to be available to the public without tampering, this would prevent further drug scandals and allow for continuous moderation of fairplay in a competitive sports scene. As exemplified, there are a variety of ways for improving these respective industries, and I believe that within the next couple years blockchains will be utilized in some form or fashion to progress the professional scenes.
Blockchain in Law
The legal industry is one of the many complicated industries featuring a wide variety of components that contribute to its inner-workings. Containing almost everything from land deeds, food regulation, criminal cases, and law officiating, there is a multitude of things to organize. It’s always hard for majorly complex and wide-ranging systems to be efficient, and that is the case for the United States current legal system. Broken down into various categories, depending on the need for representation or legal assessment, there are many complications faced within legal matters everyday. The law is a delicate subject and everything strikes extreme importance from words exchanged to actions in a court of law. With that being said, it’s imperative that in a court of law that all parties are constantly aware and have access to legal documents necessary for the matter. Of course, this is practiced in the court of law but is widely inefficient due to the precedent of outdated technology utilized in the court. In conjunction with traditional practices being currently utilized, it has been found that 48% of a lawyers time is spent on administrative tasks by the clio 2018 legal trends report, all due to the fact of unavailability of universal client and court information. Conjoined with blockchain mechanisms there is a huge opportunity for the law field to evolve within the next five years.
The importance of accessibility and transparency is highly praised in the court of the law due to the fact that every detail matters. With a blockchain’s enhanced security measures, its unique peer-to-peer system can accurately store legal information such as but not limited to transcripts, ledgers, and legal documents, which are all immediately shareable amongst clients, organizations, and governments. Due to the prestigious integrity surrounding blockchain data encryption, the risk of losing costly private information is no longer a worry. Due to the easy accessibility produced by a blockchain system, the efficiency surrounding legal matters will see a drastic increase, no longer needing to deal with tedious administrative tasks. As a unit, the overall costs will be reduced within the legal industry because there is a reduced workload from having available information at a moment’s notice. This, in turn, will benefit consumers that are actively engaged in the law industry as they will also receive lower costs for services. It is highly evident that the outdated law industry would highly improve with the replacement of old traditional procedures with a highly entrusted blockchain system.
The transformation of the world as we know it could be revolutionized with the single implementation of an ingenious idea, blockchain. It’s wildly effective core composed of simple components allow for versatile approaches to solving modern problems featured in a copious amount of industries. If effectively employed, I believe the implementation of blockchain technology within a variety of industries will pave the way for the future of innovation. It’s management of transparency, efficiency, and encryption are all widely beneficial and contribute various solutions to problematic dilemmas featured in many places of work. Having lived through the drastic age of technological development, I believe that blockchain technology will be the future of the world, and it will be featured extensively very soon.
About the Author
University of North Carolina Wilmington
- Field of Study:Graphic Design
- Expected Year of Graduation:2024
- Chosen Prompt: Blockchain use cases for the future economy and their effect on people’s lives around the world.