Do you know that the application of blockchain does not solely lies on cryptocurrencies alone? In fact, several non-financial players in the world are paying attention and looking for befitting ways they could also leverage the opportunities that DLT opens.
Undeniably, after the advent of the internet, blockchain’s potentials are no doubt one of the most disruptive technology in the 21st century. Just by adding “blockchain” to your company name, your share price will increase very steeply. Almost every field is now implementing this technology because its application will change their existing business models and enable new ones — by making their business operations pretty easier and safer, compared to the traditional settings.
In term of revolutionizing business operations, blockchain aims at removing all the paperworks associated with business operations which has long been a standing problem and thereby replacing them with a paperless system– to improve service delivery on day-to-day operations.
Additionally, these profound opportunities lurking around blockchain technology has not just sped up the rate of its adoption (especially in 2018) but has also created a mechanism in which startups could easily raise money — which is known as Initial coin offerings (ICOs).
Considering the immense potentials of blockchain, it is crystal clear that there are hundreds or even thousands of fields where blockchain can be applied. However, here are top 10 fields where it can be applied.
#1 Banking Sector :
Arguably, the banking sector is one of the most popular fields that is applying blockchain technology. Without any iota of doubt, it’s pretty obvious that the current banking system, although more advanced compared to decades past, lacks fairness — the interest and transaction rate is high and customers receive little or no favor from their interactions with them. Some individuals are forced into unfair deal, especially startups who has little or nothing to stand for as collateral while seeking for a loan in bank.
Obviously, running transactions in banks, especially the one that involves huge cash takes more time than you can ever imagine; some might take hours or even days to push through. The funniest of all is that there are millions of people all over the globe who have no access to a bank at all due to some reasons best known to them.
Technically, blockchain can universally rectify the situations with the current banking systems.
How, you may ask?
Whether it is payment, settlement, or compliance, with just a smart phone and internet connection, anyone can bank – send and receive payment without any oversight, intermediaries or central authority to regulate your transactions. Meanwhile, with Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), decentralization, efficiency, immutability, effectiveness and security; it can revolutionize the entire spectrum of financial services in the banking sector.
Some companies has already started with the implementation. The San Francisco-based tech firm is currently providing global financial-settlement solutions powered by blockchain to enable banks to transact directly with each other and also lower the total costs of settlement.
Obviously, while Bitcoin and other altcoins that came afterwards have enhanced transaction speed and efficiency , it is interesting to know that some banks have adopted this technology to improve their cross-border payment capabilities.
For instance, Japan and Thailand has jointly adopted the blockchain-powered instant-remittance services to open a new payment road between the two countries. Now, this collaboration between Thailand’s Siam Commercial Banks and Japan’s SBI Remit, utilizes Ripple’s blockchain, which will help to boost the speed, efficiency and cost of the countries remittance corridor, which sum amounts to about $250 million transferred every year which is probably so because of the 40,000 plus Thai nationals residing in Japan. According to the Siam Commercial Banks, any transaction that results in funds being deposited in the recipient saving account in Thailand can be completed in two to five seconds which is far much better than the ‘norm’ that takes about two business days before transaction will be completed.
Six of the world’s prestigious premier lenders – Credit Suisse, Barclays, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, HSBC, MUFG( Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group) and State Street – have just joined a project led by Swiss banking giant UBS with the goal of creating the utility settlement coin, a digital currency that will mainly be used to speedily clear and settle financial transactions using blockchain. Meanwhile, the original aim of this project is not just to enhance the efficiency of settlement systems, but to reduce the time, cost and capital required for the post-trade clearing and settlement process.
Still, in terms of asset and wealth management, this tech can also be leveraged by banks to streamline portfolio management, manage client profiles and enable compliance with KYC (Know Your Customers) and AML (Anti-Money Laundering) procedures in a more structured way. A good example of crypto-startup working towards making this a reality is SwissBorg—it raised $50 million just in an ICO.
While it is evidently clear that blockchain is having a solid impact on our existing banking processes, here are other applications of blockchain technology currently being adopted by banking sectors:
- Deutsche Bank is trailing a corporate –bond platform that utilizes smart contract to issue and redeem bond.
- DBS and Standard Chartered Banks are working on trade-finance collaboration with Ripple to improve invoice tracking and avoid invoice duplication.
- Bank of America has also filed numerous patents relating to using blockchain for conducting and settling transaction.
#2 Health Industry
This technology has made its way to the healthcare industry. And there are unimaginable ways it can enhance the healthcare operations. Obviously, it won’t be a universal cure for the industry, but it would certainly lead the industry to the right path.
In 2017, according to a research made on Healthcare Rallies for Blockchain by IBM, it was discovered that about 16% of surveyed healthcare executives had a solid plans to implement a commercial blockchain solution that year. Thereafter about 56% were expected to implement blockchain solutions by 2020.
The central aim for blockchain’s disruption in the healthcare industry, especially its future, would be to solve many existing issues that has long been a challenge in the health sector. While blockchain is not a magic bullet that solves all data-related management problems, have it in mind that there are few areas where blockchain can improve the data management of healthcare and Pharma/Biotics.
Surprisingly, blockchain’s developments in this industry are still in early stages, but enthusiasts expansive interest on its implementation is on the high rate despite the fact that this propositions are still prototypes. Apparently, the industry is still grappling with what is currently possible and what blockchain can solve in the future.
There are many sections in the health industry where blockchain can be applied, but let’s channel our strength on some of the most reassuring ones.
Creating a workable and detailed history records related with a patient , despite the advancement of technology in Healthcare, has been an existing challenge in the healthcare IT. In other words, keeping a complete medical history of a patient from scratch is not fully guaranteed both with the Manual data collector and the electronic data collector.
According to a research on Data Collection Methods in Health Services whose objective is to determine effectiveness of administrative data from electronic patient management program and manual data collector resulted to the following; the manual data collection from ward-based sources captured only 69% which is 376 of the 542 inpatient episodes gotten from the hospital administrative electronic patient management program. However, the electronic patient management program had the highest level of agreement with inpatient medical record review for both length of stay which is about 93.4% and discharge destination which is 91%.
From the above research, you’ll observe that none of these existing methods on data management were able to give a complete medical records of inpatients in the considered hospital. Well, blockchain offers the likelihood of creating a reliable environment to keep, monitor and track any changes across systems that is associated with data integration between proprietary systems.
More importantly, since one of the most significant non-technical feature of blockchain is “decentralization,” then, you as a patient, can also have full access to your medical records. In fact, you will have more control of your data as you will. Additionally, the existing medical topic MPI( Master Patient Index) which most health organizations finds it difficult to reliably track individuals as they consume healthcare from different sources will be revolutionized to Blockchain-based Master Patient Index (MPI). Actually, the complexity around the ‘norm’ MPI has complicated detailed tracking of patient medical history. Some patient names are spelled differently, their addresses got changed, and their insurance providers have also changed.
Clearly, tracking and determining such patient’s data has been a constant challenge. Contrarily, tracking patients records will be much easier and reliable with blockchain-based Master patient Index (MPI).
MedRec is a good example of blockchain startups working towards not just improving electronic records but allowing patients’ records to be accessed securely by any provider who needs it before commencing treatments on such patient. As a matter of fact, their major goal is to give patients and their providers a direct access to the entire medical history of all the hospitals or health-providers the patient has ever seen.
Drug Development and Supply Chain Trustworthiness:
The application of blockchain in healthcare is not limited to data management alone, it could also smooth the way for new drug development by enabling patients medical result to be broadly accessible ( only on their permission), and this could help control feign or counterfeit drugs implication that has greatly cost pharmaceutical companies. According to research carried on The Health and Economic Effects of Counterfeit , the Department of Homeland Security confirmed that,”counterfeit and pirated goods” pose a serious threat to American consumers, our critical infrastructure and national security; and that it also cost US businesses more than $200 billion annually, and over 750,000 jobs were lost on this account.
However, implementation of blockchain in this area strengthens the borderline on drug development and enhances trustworthiness in the supply chain whereby citizens will no longer be scared of consuming counterfeited drugs.
Claims Arbitration and Billing Management:
Due to the complexity, the managements are still lacking on the distributing nature of our existing healthcare system. Every year, billions of dollar is disbursed into healthcare, but the managements are still trying to understand which patient received a certain health service — from what health-service providers and by whose jurisdiction. This is one of the greatest cost problems lurking around while tracking the flow of money and services by US. Medicare. In fact, Research has it that an estimated 5-10% of healthcare costs are fraudulent, and they all results from excessive billing and billing for non-performed services. In 2016, it was estimated that in United State alone, about $30 million was lost to Medicare fraud.
Contrarily, blockchain-based system can correct this situation by providing realistic solutions that will control this form of fraud. Through automating the majority of claim adjudication and payment processing activities, the blockchain will eliminate the need for third party or intermediaries. This application will not only reduce administrative cost, it’ll also reduce time for both health providers and payers. A good example of a blockchain startup working towards making this a reality is Gem Health. Gem Health is a provider of blockchain-based platforms for organizations and enterprises, and they also collaborated with Capital One to develop blockchain-based healthcare claims management solutions.
Healthcare’s Cyber Security and IoT:
The healthcare’s cyber security is another important area where blockchain application is highly needed. A report from Protenus Breach Barometer confirmed that there were a total of 450 health data breaches in 2016. Over 27 million patients were affected as a result of this hack.
Statistically, about 43% of these breaches was caused by insiders and 27% was due to hacking and ransomware.
However, blockchain-enabled solution has what it takes to bridge these existing gaps in the Health IT infrastructure, and ensure maximum security, privacy and total reliability around IoMT (Internet of Medical Things). It was also estimated that by 2020, over 20-30 billion healthcare IoT connected device will be used globally. A good example of blockchain startups working towards this are Tierion and Telstra.
#3 Shipping Industry:
Do you know that blockchain has the potential to also revolutionize the shipping industry? For long, the shipping industry has been running their operation on traditional processes.
Apparently, most shipping transactions involve numerous documents such as sales contract bill, lading bills, endorsed letters of credit, port documents, etc. and keeping tracks of all this paperwork is obviously strenuous and time consuming.
However, blockchain enabled-solution has a method of improving and remodeling the mode of operation in the shipping industries. Here are few promising ways it can enhance their mode of operations;
Blockchain get rid of paperwork: Processing paperwork is one of the most existing challenges being faced in the shipping industry. Due to its volume, errors and misplacement of documents are prone to happen. But the application of blockchain could ease their worry by eliminating the evident paperwork and making it a thing of the past.
The application of blockchain will not just facilitate a paperless mode of operation, but will also make it easier for everyone involved with private and public keys, starting from the buyers and sellers of cargo, ship owners, port authorities, custom agents and chartered banks to interact with each other, exchange information, and seamlessly complete transactions without worrying about keeping an eye on stacks of paperwork.
Blockchain facilitates faster processing time and real-time update: Traditionally, processing and mailing paperwork from one place to another takes days and even weeks to be fully completed. But with blockchain technology, these processes and mailing is, however, automatic and almost instantaneous — that is in a matter of few minutes the task is completed. Interestingly, its automated nature also helps provide real-time updates to any individual who have access to the ledger.
Blockchain ensures complete transparency: Since transparency is one of the features of blockchain, whereby anyone with the necessary access key can view all the information stored from any location, thus, the evaluation of counterparties risk will be smoother; since the parties involved have access to all the necessary information of the transaction. Hence, their won’t be room for disagreement.
In addition, while this technology eliminates the need to fully rely on phone calls and probably emails for updates, its enhanced visibility in the shipping industry will make it much easier for everyone from the supplier down to the end of customer to easily track where their shipments is and when it arrives to the required destination.
Blockchain increases security: Considering the current level of cyber risks, documents transported through mail could easily be hacked because they are prone to security breaches. However, worry less. Blockchain happens to be the golden solution to security breaches and any information stored on it is fully encrypted. Additionally, its system prevent any user from altering or interfering with the information stored on it – this further protects the stored document from being manipulated by any user.
Blockchain reduces cost of shipping: Evidently, one of that factors that outrageously increase the cost of shipping is documentation. Sending paperwork from one place to the other involves risks, discrepancies and procedural delay; and all these soars the cost of shipping. But since blockchain eliminates the need of paperwork ( i.e physical documentation), consequently, the cost of shipping reduce drastically.
Blockchain ensures a smooth-running Data-exchange: The current way we serve cargo-related financial and legal documents as shipments is clearly not efficient enough; but the adoption of blockchain technology could allow all of these data (both financial and legal) to be easily exchanged in a more regulated and secured manner.
Blockchain enhances shipping companies delivery quality: Occasionally, while shipping customers consignment, some of these shipments get lost or damaged on the process, which consequently changes customers perception about the shipping company. However, one of blockchain’s enabled-solution is to provide an efficient asset management system for customer to monitor their cargo at all time.
As far back as thousands of years ago, Insurance has been around. Although the advancement in technology has changed the entire industries over the past decades, but its inherent complexity hasn’t lessened at all. In fact, consumers, brokers, insurers and reinsurers are still struggling with the failure in the traditional system which has led to policies being misinterpreted, loss of vital information and settlement time being lengthened.
However, with the blockchain transformative potentials, insurance companies and startups will be cryptographically transformed, and of course this will be no mean feat even though the possibilities are endless. Meanwhile, here are areas where blockchain enabled-solution will possibly hold.
Fraud Awareness and Risk Prevention:
One of the promising benefits insurance companies stands to gain from switching to blockchain technology is that it enables them to easily detect fraud ‘signs’ and prevent potential risks.
According to the research carried on the cost of US insurance fraud, it was discovered that the total cost of insurance fraud not counting health insurance was estimated to be $40 billion annually. Actually, it was further detected that insurance fraud masquerade itself as increased premiums, and cost an average US family anywhere about $400-$700.
Blockchain is the right tech-tool to combat this existing fraud. With DLT( decentralized ledger technology, insurers would record permanent transactions with granular access controls to protect data security. Meanwhile, storing claims information on this ledger would really help insurers collaborate and spot-out suspicious behavior across the ecosystem
Property and Casualty (P&C) Insurance:
One of biggest challenges Property and Casualty (P&C) insurance face today is gathering the necessary data to evaluate and process claims. Although, this process is vulnerable to error and damage due to the volume of the manual data entry of the different party involved, but it can also be digitally managed and track by policyholders and insurers with blockchain.
Blockchain provides a permanent audit trail by codifying business rules and automating claims processing via smart contracts – which is an agreement between two or more parties that live on a blockchain, and it is enforceable by code. For instance, when a fellow’s claim is submitted with an insurer, a smart contract could automatically confirm coverage, and further trigger a request for manual review for losses that meet a certain criteria. Let’s say for a car insurance, a smart contract would be linked to a land traffic control database, and would automatically trigger compensation when delays or cancellations occur. A good example of insurance companies that have adopted blockchain is Allianz Insurance. It is built on top of Hyperledgers Fabric Blockchain. Their blockchain connects to Citi’s CitiConnect API to accept instruction and payout contracts. According to Krattiger of Allianz, “Automated processing replaces the exchange of thousands of email and massive data files.”
Literally, the primary work of an insurer is to help customers offload risk and soften unforeseen events. But reinsurer provides the necessary insurance for insurers especially when they are not just faced with major disaster but also when they are in an inefficient system determined by “one-off contracts and manual processes.” But how does blockchain come in, you may ask?
Well, with blockchain immutable ledger, reinsurers are pretty much ready to allocate capital for claims nearly in real-time, and also enabling both reinsurers and insurers to process and settle claims more faster without depending on any manual processed data around each claim. Additionally, it also facilitate the ease-flow of information between both parties on a shared ledger.
While the adoption of blockchain is increasing daily across the board, its impact on the government is not sidelined. For centuries now, government around the world have believed in fulfilling their duties duly – albeit through manual processes and unnecessary labor work, but blockchain scenario has changed it all.
In fact its outstanding method of handling transaction ledger, smart contracts and automation and eliminating third-party entity, would obviously benefit the government sectors especially areas of business growth, transaction verification and tracking etc.
Below are three major areas where blockchain technology can be strongly applied in the government sector;
Government operation: In 2017, ever since the government ‘use cases’ has been identified and designed, many government are increasingly keying into this limitless opportunity. Some of them are now implementing blockchain to enable a paperless layer for all city transactions, converting millions of document- ranging from visa application to bill payment, into digital-secured form.
Industry Creation: Some nations are now adopting this technology to create an enabling ecosystem for not just their citizens but startups at large. For example nations like Dubai has embraced this technology because they see it as an agile solution to streamlining its growing government processes. In May 2017, it was reported that the Smart Dubai Global Blockchain Challenge witnessed 21 startups fly into Dubai from 19 cities to pitch their most colorful blockchain ideas.
And global leadership: Technically, blockchain’s built-in efficiency, accountability and security has convinced many government into improving their operation by applying its technology. Some are even gunning at strengthening their leadership position(including both formal and informal cross-border collaboration) in the world through blockchain technology.
#6 Apartment rentals and real estate:
Originally, high value asset like real estate and apartment renting transaction are usually conducted offline, which is the norm face-to-face transaction with the required entities. Blockchain, however, has opened up ways to turn things around for the best.
Meanwhile, below are how blockchain wants to transform the entire real estate industry;
- It can bring about secure property sale by making paper deeds and title fraud history. With this technology, every information on real estate, transactions , title registration, property encumbrances and their condition is stored into distributed ledgers, and they are easily accessible online and through mobile apps. Here, each property will have its own blockchain ID, giving no room to title fraud.
- With blockchain, a digital lease which automatically withdrew rent payment and service charges with full audit trail of no human error is guaranteed.
- Blockchain will eliminate any fear of manipulation through a self-governing accounting system.
- Blockchain will erase any iota of doubt about a property through its secured electronic record that will be tied to each corporate or individual identity to show the full history about the property in question.
Ragnar Lifthrasir, the Chairman of the International Blockchain Real Estate Association, also reported in one of his speeches that many real estate firms are putting a lot of time and effort into implementing this technology. He also added that “in a year people will be surprised at the marquee real estate companies who are adopting blockchain.’’
#7 Publishing industry
Tom Cox said “If we imagine that the industry remain as it Is today, one path would be to establish a blockchain network of publishing industry rights trades.”
In this era, the publishing industry is to a great extent in control of a small group of publishers, so, it can be difficult for non famous writer to breakthrough since his or her success is dependent on the whims and fancies of the publishers. Yes, the internet has made it easier for writer to air their view and showcase their craft but still, the recognition of traditional publishing is still lacking. However, with blockchain enabled-solution, publishers can choose to digitally publish writers and even print their books should they feel the quality of the writing and should demand also exist. Additionally, the designed token system will also ensure that writers get their pay.
For instance, crypto startup like Authorship is currently working on this idea. Other startups like ALLi (Alliance of Independent Authors) has already pushed forward with a campaign tagged, Blockchain for Books. Here is what their introductory material on Blockchain for Books reads; “Blockchain has attracted the most interest as the system that underwrites digital currencies like Bitcoin, but it is also likely to underwrite the next disruption in publishing, and likely in a way that will be even more disruptive than the digital revolution.”
Meanwhile here is a summary of what ALLi proposes that blockchain will impact:
- On copyright, blockchain will make “ownership indisputable.”
- Blockchain will facilitate smart publishing contracts that will use automation to “simultaneously represent ownership of an intellectual property and the conditions that come with that ownership.”
- With ALLi members’ interest at hand, blockchain could be used to facilitate Privacy Control – by forwarding a book directly to customer without any middleman, either for free or pay.
#8 Cloud computing or distributing computing:
As the day goes by, the need of computing power—like electricity and internet soars. Practically every task that we do daily, especially in the entertainment and scientific industries, requires heavy computational power. But the challenge here is this, accessibility rights are majorly giving to large corporate organizations who have the fund to operate the system.
Interestingly, the distribution property of blockchain changes everything as it allows user all over the world to seamlessly utilize the computing power to perform their daily computational task. Golem Network is one of the crypto startups working this change. They’re currently designing a platform that will let people rent out idle computing resources like bandwidth and processing power to others who can use it to CGI(Computer-generated imagery) and perform scientific calculator.
#9 Identity management (for companies and individuals):
Apparently, digital storage is now one of the major places for storing important data because of is fascinating speed and its less impact on the ecosystem, although, it’s not the safest due to cyber-attacks. In fact a recent survey on cyber-attacks has it that several forms of cyber hacks have taken place over the past few years and they focused majorly on valuable personal data of millions of individuals.
Obviously, blockchain technology( i.e the blockchain’s encrypted ledger) is the perfect solution to this shortcomings. And some startups have started working on digital identity management already. For instance, SelfKey—a blockchain-based identity network, allows users, both individuals and organizations, to control and manage their identities. Their platform is also designed to connect its users to utilitilize their utility providers and requestors of personal information, for example, bank accounts, residency, passport services etc. Other crypto startups working on identity management are Civic and The Key.
#10 Hedge funds
The current system of hedge fund operates in a wide variety of market and hold considerable risk and reward. And in most hedge fund today, only few investors come together to pool in their money and this is due to the perception and opinions of other individual investors about ‘group’ and also high cost of transaction fees. And obviously, their major challenge is “Transparency.”
Blockchain is known for its transparency, therefore, hedge fund could implement it to enhance transparency in their operation. Also, the decentralized nature of blockchain, simply mean that several investors can work together, place their investment and align their interests. Companies like Numeria, Alpha protocol have started working on utilizing blockchain’s decentralized features to improve their operation within Hedge fund.