Blockchain 101

Blockchain in Action

Blockchains are expected to be integrated into many different industries, potentially creating great disruption. In some cases, blockchain based projects are already making their way into development. There are many applicable use cases for blockchain technology, and more are being discussed, researched, and developed at an increasing rate! In this lesson, we explore the development of blockchain technology and impacts on various industries.

Academics

Blockchain technology offers many interesting solutions to problems or challenges in education. Blockchain in education touches on topics of identity and reputation, as well as privacy and security. Blockchains can enable us to completely rework our education and credibility systems, as well as verify credentials. They also enable a more secure way to hold student data, begging the question of how rights over student data will change in the coming years as blockchain technology is integrated.

Automotive

Blockchain technology offers a great way to securely store vehicle data and keep the rights to that data with its rightful owner. Reputation ratings can be built for taxi or ride-sharing drivers, as well as drivers looking to rent a car. Smart contract integration can also influence the automotive field. Topics of privacy, identity, and reputation all play into the automotive industries disruption due to the introduction of blockchain technology.

Energy

The energy industry’s potential to adopt blockchain technology offers the ability for people to sell excess energy through a peer-to-peer network, instead of selling it back to regional authorities. Blockchains provide a way of reliably tracking the production and use of energy while offering a straightforward and reliable way to process payments. As the energy sector becomes more decentralized, blockchain technology could be the key to ensuring fairness opportunity for everyone. Additionally, blockchain technology allows for an evener distribution and delivery of energy, ultimately making those systems more efficient.

These plans are already being put into action. ConsenSys, an organization dedicated to the advancement of Ethereum based projects, is using the Ethereum network to supply electricity to parts of Texas. This has already cut down on the cost of supplying energy while minimizing energy waste. ConsenSys and Grid+ have incorporated Ethereum’s Raiden Network, used to the transfer of smaller amounts of currency which allows for users to receive micropayments if they have excess energy to sell.

Enterprise

Enterprise can be greatly impacted by blockchains by providing secure and transparent ways for tracking transactions within and between businesses, whether that be financial records, customer records, receipts, orders, etc. Blockchains can also change the way contracts are implemented between employees and partners.

Food fraud is a major problem for grocers, with some extreme cases leading to the deaths of consumers. Previously, it took weeks to identify the source of food contamination.  Walmart is using Hyperledger Fabric in order to bring transparency to the food supply chain. Instead of outright rejecting a product that may or may not be harmful, the source of contamination can be much more easily pinpointed, minimizing any disruption to the food supply chain. Walmart currently tracks 25 products using a system built upon Hyperledger Fabric.

Finance

The finance industry is quite aware of blockchain technology disrupting their field, especially considering that blockchains have their own cryptocurrency integrated into their systems. Many financial institutions have shown their interest by advocating for researching and developing blockchain technology.

Blockchains can be utilized to influence any system dedicated to tracking transactions and the flow of money. Financial operations are traditionally done in a very opaque manner, but these open blockchains may challenge the status quo, allowing for greater trust between business partners. These institutions may be more open to using private blockchains, as this could better protect their organization’s interests.

Government

Blockchains may challenge some of the current practices we have in place that help with governance. Voting is one system that blockchains can help secure and make fairer. Blockchains can also allow us, as smaller and larger communities, to govern ourselves or at least make decisions regarding our communities.

The City of Denver is partnering up with Voatz, a decentralized platform that allows those overseas to reliably cast their vote. Voters use a secure application to cast their ballots.

Healthcare

The healthcare industry in encumbered with an immense amount of paper records. Additionally, these medical records contain personal information that should only be available to the patient and their doctors. Forward Blockchain is a medical IT system that is currently being developed. Their goal is to secure medical systems by using blockchain technology.