Most people have heard of blockchain in the context of crypto. We know that blockchain technology serves as the foundation for Bitcoin and all the other cryptocurrencies that have come to populate the FinTech environment in the years after its inception.
Despite this direct association, the potential and applications of blockchain go far beyond the world of cryptocurrency and finance. This may be the first and most popular use case of the technology so far, but many things have happened since the emergence of the first digital currency and blockchain has taken a life of its own.
A whole world of possibilities lies behind this innovative technology, waiting to be brought into existence, and we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface. From governments to independent companies and organizations, everyone has started to realize the immense capabilities that hide behind blockchain and are now looking for ways to leverage it to their benefit. Judging by the rapid evolution of the technology over the past few years and the impact it’s had on so many areas of activity in the short time span since it’s been around, we can assume that the changes it’s going to bring from this point on are going to be even more impressive and further alter the world we live in.
There’s certainly a lot to unpack here, so let’s take a look at how blockchain technology might transform our lives in the future.
What is blockchain, anyway?
In order to gain a better understanding of how blockchain technology can transform the world around us, you need to learn the basics of it. We won’t go too much into technicalities since blockchain technology is extremely complex, and getting caught up in its inner workings can cause confusion for beginners. To put things simply, blockchain is a very intricate database of transactions stored in data blocks on a distributed network of computers with the help of cryptography which enables the encryption of information so no unauthorized person can access or alter it.
So, blockchain is a completely decentralized and distributed technology that no one owns or governs, but that can be used and supported by all the people who partake in transactions on the network. The data blocks are linked together in chronological order, and every participant holds a copy of the ledger, ensuring transparency, security, and immutability.
This is an oversimplified description of how blockchain technology functions, and for most users, this will always remain a mystery. A better way to get acquainted with blockchain is through its applications and real-world use cases that can have a direct impact on our lives.
Banking and finance
The rise of cryptocurrencies has made blockchain technology famous. Cryptos like Bitcoin and Ethereum, which are based on blockchain, are now being used as an alternative form of payment, ensuring transparency, security, accessibility, and efficiency. While the use of digital currencies as a financial instrument has been facilitated by the large number of businesses that have started accepting crypto payments, it’s still difficult for the average consumer to use their crypto assets to purchase goods.
Market volatility represents another deterrent to mainstream crypto adoption, with Bitcoin and ETH coin price experiencing constant fluctuations. You can buy Ethereum at one price today and see the figures change by the next morning. However, as the market matures and cryptos find their way into the mainstream, many of these issues will cease to be a problem. Therefore, blockchain is already paving the way for a more inclusive and fair financial system.
The medical system in all countries is inherently flawed, rendering doctors’ efforts useless in many cases. As if it wasn’t difficult enough for patients to deal with their ailments and get the care and treatment they desperately need, technicalities can also pose a challenge to delivering quality healthcare. Medical records getting lost, doctors having to play detective to get hold of patients’ information, different systems that are not compatible with each other and medical fraud are all common occurrences in today’s world.
The introduction of blockchain-based solutions in the healthcare field can put an end to all these issues by providing a central database where all medical information can be stored and accessed safely by authorized medical professionals and patients only, without the risk of anyone losing files or altering data.
Have you ever wondered about the journey and transformations that a finished product had gone through before it ended in your hands? It can be a labyrinthic trajectory that’s difficult to trace back, which poses a series of challenges for both consumers and producers.
Fortunately, blockchain can solve the mystery and ensure easy traceability. Blockchain technology allows stakeholders to keep tabs on products all throughout the supply chain, so they can know exactly where each item comes from and how it got to its destination. This also guarantees that no item gets lost, damaged or delayed along the way.
Drafting and executing contracts the traditional way can be a very complicated and time-consuming endeavor. Fortunately, blockchain-based smart contracts can help automate a contract’s implementation and thus streamline the entire process. Smart contracts are, in fact, computer programs stored on a blockchain that are executed automatically when the predetermined terms of the agreement are met.
The use of smart contracts saves time, money and effort, being cheaper and faster than contracts that require third-party verification. What’s more, this technology can be applied to businesses in all industries and sectors, so the applications are virtually limitless.
The manipulation of the voting system has been a long-debated topic in many countries, with scandals of fraud plaguing many elections. Voters can either go to the polling booth in person or use the electronic voting system, but none of these options is flawless.
Blockchain technology might be able to put an end to electoral fraud and security issues, enabling voters to cast their votes quickly and safely by using their smart devices. Anyone could vote regardless of their location in full confidence and security.
These are just a few of the many blockchain-based use cases that we might see picking up pace in the future, so there’s no denying that this innovative technology has the power to change the world for the better.