A lot has been spoken of about blockchain as a technology and its impact on enterprises. Here's a look at some use cases.
Blockchain is more than just about Bitcoin-it heralds a new era in organizational operations – The digital age has seen a confluence of various technological processes transform businesses across sectors. From CRM to ERP, automation and cloud computing have opened new possibilities for operations managers to enhance output and employee experience. Those technologies are essential to managing Big Data as well, which continues to grow exponentially. The other recent entry into the mix is Blockchain, which is already giving plenty of benefits despite being a newcomer.
With blockchain development, businesses can build trust in their systems for their users and customers. There are multiple use cases for the technology in every business domain, with cryptocurrency management being its most visible and widespread one. It is, therefore, unsurprising that investment into this technology is increasing each year-the 2021 total was US$6.6 Billion, and that is pegged to grow to US$39.7 Billion by 2025.
The enhancement of data security and reliability, the cornerstones of any business, in a manner that’s unparalleled by any other technology is the driving force behind the technology’s adoption. It also solves many other challenges that companies face on a daily basis, making it a versatile process solution option. Not to forget, one of its biggest USPs-decentralization.
So, are you on the path to adopting blockchain development for your business? Or are you testing the waters to figure out if it would fit your business objectives? If it’s the latter, then you can learn more about how you can use it to drive your business’ growth and security at present and future as read on.
What Is Blockchain Technology Exactly?
Ever since the enigmatic name of Satoshi Nakamoto took the world by storm in 2009 with the introduction of Bitcoin, blockchain has become a part of everyone’s lexicon. The 2017 Bitcoin boom also played a major role in bringing to light the potential of the new currency format and the underlying technology. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin have become pertinent because blockchain development at its core is about digital ledger maintenance.
The technology is essentially a means of maintaining transactional records in sets of “Blocks” across several databases, called the “Chain”. Thai is done across a network of interconnected, peer-peer nodes. It falls under the category of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT).
The ledgers are intrinsically secure because every transaction that occurs across this network is authenticated by the owner at its origin. This action prevents the information contained within from being tampered despite giving the ability for multiple users to access it. The other factor contributing to authenticity is the inability to delete or erase the uploaded records.
Want more security? Enter decentralization. As can be seen, there is no central database to maintain the blocks at any point in the chain. There are no intermediaries and no central authority to command the network or information package management. Everything in blockchain development happens across a number of distrusting, unknown parties. These peers use sophisticated algorithms to confirm the blocks.
Thus, you have encrypted data distributed across a network that is authentic and accessible whenever and wherever. And with decentralization, you have backups and redundancies that keep that data from being lost. It’s these qualities that make it an appealing proposition for businesses across the board.
Use Cases Of Blockchain Technology
Blockchain is already establishing itself as the go-to technology behind many business processes, and that list continues to grow in size. Some of the present ones include:
Finance and Banking
Being synonymous with cryptocurrencies, it is no surprise that the financial world was the first to adopt this technology for its purposes. The big leap was done by Spain’s Banco Santander in 2018, with the adoption of blockchain for its secure international money transfer service.
Blockchain development can yield banks and other financial institutions the safety and reliability that can’t be compromised. Conventional transfer mechanisms are susceptible to cyber attacks and fraud, despite plenty of countermeasures. And the increase of such attacks in recent times is leading to the industry’s affinity towards blockchain as a solution.
The other areas of this industry that benefit from blockchain include Capital markets, Trade Finance, Compliance to Regulations, Financial Auditing, Insurance, Protection Against Money Laundering, and Direct Peer-Peer Transactions.
In fact, payments make up the lion’s share of blockchain use in finance, followed by securities settlement. Detection of fraud and security and trade finance constitute the other major segments that rely on blockchain development for their successful implementation.
Logistics/Supply chain management are a perfect match as both are about delivering packages of content from node to the next securely and in-time. WHat also makes blockchain appealing to the logistics industry is its ability to supply tracking information about the goods from point to point in real-time.
Besides the cargo itself, cargo vessels like ships, planes, trains, trucks, etc. can be tracked and logged into the system just as easily. When all of this information is combined into one seamless data package, the result is excellent situational awareness about every component of the supply chain.
Blockchain development doesn’t stop there: it can add associated data such as insurance of the goods and vehicles too alongside. The international applicability of the technology is a bonus as it can retain regulatory compliance while having its own cross-border standard across the network.
Paperwork and real estate go hand in hand, requiring reliable documentation management for sellers, agents/agencies, buyers, renters/lessors, etc. Blockchain delivers on that requirement and much more for this sector.
For example, a renter’s history can be viewed for the background check and ability to keep up their payments. Financial transactions can also be done without hassles and with the guarantee of quick verification for large amounts. Blockchain development for real estate also helps all parties involved avoid fraud, which can be a menace due to its prevalence.
Land and property ownership and other such documents can be maintained without fear of loss or tampering in the blockchain network. It helps sellers and buyers, landlords and renters to communicate their terms of the deal with trust and reliability as the documents can be shared globally with verification.
Big data is having a big impact on the healthcare sector, fundamentally changing how patients are treated and healthcare centers are managed. The rise of telemedicine is demanding a need for an accurate and reliable way to store and transfer data across borders. Not just that, the data must also remain compliant with each of the locations’ regulations, which for the healthcare industry are very detailed to say the least.
Blockchain development for healthcare is, therefore, an inevitability. Patients’ Electronic Medical Records/Electronic Health Records (EMR/EHR) management is another prime candidate for adopting blockchain. While the individual data like age, height, illness record, etc, can’t be adapted for blockchain use, their collection in the form of those documents certainly can be.
The presence of encryption ensures that privacy is maintained even while the documents become accessible to many healthcare personnel. Blockchain can also connect data records generated by personal health devices that find increasing use among the general populace. It can interlink the disparate silos of data generated by individual devices monitoring a variety of factors and append them to the single patient health records made possible by blockchain development professionals.
The other facets of the industry that is affected by the technology include supplier and vendor management, pharmacological management (both in hospitals and independent pharmacies), medical research data, medical equipment movement and usage management, etc.
Internet of Things (IoT) and Smart Devices
Controlling lights from within a room using a smartphone is already passe. With IoT, that control will be available for every part of the building from anywhere in the world. And it’s not just smart homes that are undergoing transformation: Industrial IoT is changing how factories operate at a fundamental level.
The investment in IoT is growing every year, adding more devices that require astute blockchain development for management. Real-time conditional data of the devices and their log history can be safely stored on the network and be available to anyone authorized to use it.
The data can relay all sorts of information about the smart devices and the building’s condition. The business using it can get vital information about the resource usage and monitor the strategy implemented to curtail their wastage.
Buildings requiring additional security like vaults can use blockchain to reliably store security data about the condition of their storage mechanisms. The same can be adapted to vehicles that require similar monitoring. A great example is IBM combining IoT and Blockchain development to ease perishable items supply chain issues.
The energy sector is a widespread one with multiple connection points required to bring the commodity from the source to the consumer. It is also undergoing the green revolution, with new sources like solar and wind coming into the fray. The grid needs to be monitored for precise supply-demand management and correct metering. All of this means data management with security and reliability that blockchain development services can deliver.
Renewables introduce intermittency and the data related to them need to be monitored keenly and recorded for optimization. The inclusion of energy storage mechanisms like batteries, smart grid technology that automatically manages the grid, vehicle-to-grid technology that is picking up with the adoption of electric cars, etc., requires peer-peer transfer of large data blocks that blockchain world best with.
It can handle the logistical data of oil and gas tankers along with that of nuclear fuel shipments that requires utmost security. AI-based grid systems will rely on blockchain to successfully manage it automatically. Blockchain development also aids with the peer-peer and other financial transactions between various energy-parties securely.
Media today has been democratized due to the advent of social media. That has also brought about vast quantities of data that require data mining with privacy intact. Personal profile data can be maintained easily and accessed by various systems of a social media company with the use of blockchain.
The technology also prevents fraud by helping to safeguard IP, such as in the case of music labels. Piracy can be reduced with the use of tracking abilities provided by the network. Smart contracts and peer-peer micropayments (via cryptos or fiat currency) can be made directly to artists for every stream of their work.
Blockchain development experts can also add time-stamped, verifiable ledgers for the metadata that accompanies this content by easily appending it to the original documents. This makes it easy to take the correct course of action if and when infringement occurs.
The technology also helps with disintermediation-the process of removing intermediaries between the artists and their royalties. It helps improve the low shares of income that artists get due to the intermediaries taking up a significant share. Videos, too, can be shared via the blockchain network instead of traditional content delivery networks, as demonstrated by Eluvio’s Content Fabric.
Blockchain development has a pivotal role to play in government processes at every level. Their many departments must handle massive quantities of data on a daily basis with utmost security and privacy.
There’s a need for seamless, unambiguous, and uninterrupted communication between the governments of different countries, regions/states/provinces and cities/towns. There is also the need for transparency between a government and its citizens regarding the former’s various operations and projects.
The accurate ledger creation, dissemination, and maintenance capabilities of blockchain can cater to these needs with ease. It will increase efficiency and offer many other benefits.
For governance purposes, blockchain technology can be implemented in the following ways:
- Record Upkeep
National, state, and local governments are filled to the brim with all varieties of documents about citizens like birth certificate, death certificate, property records, tax filings, etc. In many instances, these are still in paper form.
It means citizens have to deal with the disadvantages that come with it, like physical visits to particular government offices where a required record is kept. The records also have to be protected against fire, wear and tear, water damage, etc., adding to the costs.
Blockchain can simplify the entire process by bringing the documents to the citizens wherever they are and whenever they want it. Blockchain development also does that in a secure manner, protecting their privacy too.
- Personal ID/Biometric Information Management
National identification recording has gone beyond attributes like name, photo, etc. – they now include biometric data as well. Fingerprint, Face ID, Iris pattern, and other such data is added to it too. This additional data needs to be stored with maximum security as it is all digital and prone to cyberattacks.
Blockchain offers the protection that such data needs for storage and transfers. The high level of encryption combined with multiple redundancies keep the data from being tampered with, falling into the wrong hands, or being destroyed due to intentional causes or accidents.
Blockchain development for identity management also gives citizens the power to see their records at any moment using just a single reference number like social security.
- Voting Management
Claims of voter fraud are a common occurrence during every election cycle. The flaws of the paper ballot and the penetrable security of voting machines have added fuel to that fire. Blockchain technology can douse those flames for good.
The blocks will ensure that every vote is accounted for and is attached to a single ID only. Cyberattacks affecting vote management systems will be impossible as they can only affect a limited number of nodes.
Blockchain development for voting can be tailored to attach entire personal records like biometric data to each vote cast. So creating a fake ID would be impossible. The vote counting process also becomes more efficient and quick.
- Tax Management
Taxes can be accurate when every digit is as well, and secure when only the right personnel are able to access the records. The massive volumes of tax data rushing in, especially during the end of the financial year, can overwhelm systems with imperfect data security and processing capability.
The solution to many such problems regarding taxation is to implement blockchain development for its management. Adding secure blocks of personal and commercial financial data with associated personal information keeps the entire network compact and manageable.
There will be less human error affecting the accuracy of content and transfer. This increases efficiency and reduces information loss due to storage and transmission issues.
- Regulations/Compliance Implementation
Compliance is hard to implement due to the complexities involved, requiring plenty of recordkeeping. But recordkeeping brings with it numerous problems like misinterpretation and missing details, making rule implementation a difficult task.
Blockchain development, when used by authorities and applicable parties, can harmonize the regulatory oversight process. The mutual records can be linked and the information tallied to identify pain points. Record updation becomes easy and safe, protecting any confidential information a business or person may have associated with the process.
- Territory Management and Defense
Satellites and other sources are constantly sending national territory data to applicable government agencies for both civilian and military purposes. The latter case may even include data about enemy territory, including their defense installations and movements.
This data must be sorted into appropriate categories for confidentiality and made available to concerned parties accordingly. Blockchain development is, thus, needed to accomplish this task. Besides accurate land records and resource management, it helps guard the borders with accurate military installation data at a particular location.
There are many more emerging contributions of blockchain technology for government purposes like PPP contract management. But unlike the internet, blockchain will work behind-the-scenes to add the necessary value. It will enhance the efficiency of public services and national security while bringing down costs.
The Benefits Of Opting For Blockchain Development
Businesses using blockchain for their functioning can expect the following rewards:
Maintaining and using a cryptocurrency account is a lot cheaper than a regular one. Blockchain development can help offset the usage fees and other costs associated with regular financial transactions. There won’t be a financial middleman involved between the payer and payee, and any crypto wallet facility used will come with much lower fees comparatively.
Cost reductions also occur due to the universal nature of a crypto network. Besides ease of international payments, there won’t be any need for an intermediary to manage the paperwork for such transactions too. Small businesses can save a lot of money through this facility.
Improved Data Security
End-to-end encryption across the network, immutable documentation, decentralization with records stored in multiple nodes, constant improvements of the network’s security, tamper-proof data storage, and the list goes on. Blockchain development can implement data security and privacy on an unprecedented level, far better than present technologies.
Quick Transactions and Transfers
Be it cryptocurrency or important documents, transfers and transactions via blockchain will be quicker compared to regular internet. With crypto, there isn’t the need to hop multiple servers during transactions. Information from the closest node will be automatically used for both parties involved.
The same with documentation transfers. A standard format usage across a single network helps eliminate format and compatibility issues, adding to the transfer speed.
Closer Customer Ties
Better consolidation of various customer data points into a single data block with blockchain development improves customer outreach. Salespersons and marketers will know whom to contact and how to appeal to them to convert easily.
Product development processes will also improve due to easily available data, helping to cater to customer demands. Together, they’ll improve customer relationships and brand image for the business, and keep the CRM fed with valuable data in real-time.
Sharper Market Edge
Staying ahead of the competition becomes easy if a business is ahead of them in using blockchain. Customers will count such a business as an innovative one and be more willing to opt for its offerings.
The efficiency improvements coming from blockchain development keeps costs low and serviceability high. Thus, it will be able to reach the market sooner at a better price.
Better Asset Management
Blockchain-based IoT to manage buildings, logistics vehicles, and other assets can aid in their maintenance immensely. They can be tracked for resource usage and strategies developed to reduce their wastage. They can be maintained more easily by feeding accurate condition data to the appropriate personnel automatically.
Financial documentation and other such assets too can be easily stored and safely managed when blockchain development is used to create the necessary components for them.
Blockchian may still be in its early stages, but it’s already making waves across the business world. WIth time its influence will only grow, transforming both the public and private sector from the ground-up. Implementing blockchain wherever applicable in your business will give it a head start in this space and help it head in the right direction-towards the inevitable realization of its objectives.
About The Author
Nathan Smith is a senior full stack developer at TechnoScore. He has an affinity for the latest technologies and actively seeks to implement them for fun and capability testing. He takes a holistic approach towards understanding the mechanisms underlying blockchain technology, looking to make out-of-the-box connections with other concepts and technologies for a full-circle development for various application implementations.