Discover Blockchain and its Future for Business
The Blockchain platform is the world’s leading digital asset management software. While its usefulness for the management of digital currencies such as Bitcoin is well established, the platform has incredible potential for a wide range of business applications. In the not-too-distant future, Blockchain could revolutionise the way some kinds of data are stored and accessed.
What is Blockchain?
Blockchain technology sounds simple, but deceptively so. It’s a far more important and useful application than it seems. Blockchain is a way of recording data permanently and transparently, and provides a sort of digital spreadsheet where online transactions and information is stored. The data that Blockchain holds can be updated in real time, more-or-less instantly, which means that at any one time, everyone accessing the data has an up-to-date record of what they’re looking at.
What magnifies the utility of Blockchain is that the data it stores isn’t held in one location. Similar to the way the cloud works, Blockchain’s data is distributed across multiple storage points all over the world. There’s no single place where the data exists, so it can never be erased, and cannot be controlled by one person or group of people. It’s a completely transparent way of recording data, which means it’s incredibly useful for storing data that needs to be independently recorded and verified.
Blockchain in the Diamond Industry
Digital currency aside, one of the earliest uses of Blockchain has been in the diamond industry. Here, it’s being employed in an attempt to crack down on the trade in conflict diamonds. A tech company called Everledger has used Blockchain to develop a system that allows diamond mining companies to verify that their diamonds are genuine and conflict-free. Each diamond registered has its own ID, ownership history, attribute list, and value, and the information is available for anyone to access with the requisite computer-aided scanning tool.
In its first six months of operation, the venture resulted in the addition of nearly 850,000 diamonds to the database. In 2017 that number has risen to over 1.6 million. While the tech is currently being used only in the industrial sector, Everledger plans to adapt it for retail and personal consumer use.
Everledger isn’t stopping at diamonds, either. It’s using Blockchain to create similar digital records for a range of luxury goods, including wine, fine art, and other markets where provenance and transparency are of paramount importance.
In the legal Industry
In the legal industry, Blockchain is leading a digital revolution thanks to the ability of the platform to provide an independently verifiable form of data protection. Law is well-known as an industry that’s heavily reliant on paperwork, privacy, and the provision of proof. Blockchain can handle all three of these concepts with ease. Recording legal contracts and transactions using this technology is a means of providing irrefutable proof of legal events such as weddings and divorces, property sales, and much more. Such a system would cut costs, time, and the risk of error all at once.
One company utilising the technology in this way is Stampery, which uses Blockchain to help organisations record, protect, and verify sensitive and important data.
The use of Blockchain in cryptocurrency transactions is all the proof that’s needed to show that it can perform the same kinds of functions for any other currency. The inter-bank communication platform Swift is building a system that should one day be able to integrate Blockchain for this very purpose. Currently the system doesn’t allow for Blockchain integration, as the platform can’t handle the vast numbers of transactions that Swift’s system must be able to provide for. But it’s likely that as the Blockchain platform evolves, it will become capable of doing so.
One of the most important potential uses of Blockchain is in clearing and settlement. Money and asset exchange and clearing currently cost the financial industry billions every year—and the global banking group Santander believes that integrating Blockchain into clearing and settlement processes could potentially save around £15 billion a year by enabling these processes to be completed almost immediately.
Privacy in Healthcare
Another potentially significant use for Blockchain is in healthcare, particularly in the realm of recording and protecting patient data, and in helping to make healthcare provision a more transparent process. Blockchain could make it much easier for different healthcare providers and institutions to share patient data securely and accurately. This can in turn lead to improvements across the board in diagnosis and treatment, patient management, and supply management, ultimately with the benefit of a more effective and cost-efficient healthcare service.