Blockchain is disruptive. You know this because everyone keeps saying so – in fact, it’s all over the media. The Huffington Post says blockchain will disrupt every industry. Business Insider claims blockchain technology could be even more disruptive than Amazon was two decades ago. Tech Crunch was more tempered but even they think blockchain might be the next disruptive technology.
It’s not just the titans of media, however. This blockchain-is-disruptive statement is so ubiquitous that you’ll hear it from the mouths of pretty much every layman who’s ever read an article about blockchain. In fact, you’ve even found yourself saying it to your friends and family when they ask why you’ve started hoarding cryptocurrencies.
And we may all agree that it’s true: blockchain technology is totally disruptive. But what exactly is it going to disrupt? Here’s a quick look at 10 real life blockchain use cases and what that means for the future of huge industries that stand to be completely transformed by blockchain technology.
One thing that’s for sure is that ever since the birth of blockchain – we’ve all been given a peek into the future. One of the first areas for this to happen? Right at the top – finance.
Blockchain can do to banking what the Internet did to media. Currently, banks serve as the global storehouses and transfer hubs of value – but blockchain could serve the exact same function. Actually, thanks to its digitized, tamper-proof, and permission-less nature, it could do even better than the banks.
Eventually…we may not need banks at all. And that’s the aspect of blockchain that excites many enthusiasts – the possibility that we could eliminate the “middleman” in our day-to-day financial transactions.
That means giving access to financial services to billions of people around the world who don’t have access to the traditional banking that most of us in the West are used to. It also means being able to send money to anyone, anywhere in the world nearly instantaneously and for very low fees.
Law and money have always evolved together so blockchain’s upheaval of the finance industry means the legal industry is in for a transformation as well. In fact, at this year’s annual conference of the International Legal Technology Association, the entire panel agreed that “blockchain might be the most important addition to the legal infrastructure since William the Conqueror gave rise to common law.”
How so? For starters, blockchain’s tamper-free, distributed nature can eliminate questions of trust and handling of data when it comes to contracts. Currently, a huge chunk of time is spent researching and litigating the validity of contracts as well as what the actual terms of the contracts were. Blockchain makes those issues moot.
Even more disruptive is the possibility that one aspect of the blockchain known as smart contracts could entirely eliminate the need for lawyers in several types of transactions.
For example, businesses traditionally employ a lawyer or outsource the services of a law firm, for any business contract or legal document required. The fees are substantial and it is usually time-consuming. It can take weeks, if not months to get the right contract done and dusted.
Smart contracts, on the other hand, are ready to use within minutes. Anyone can get them drafted to their exact specifications and they are legally binding – no lawyer necessary.
As so many home buyers find out everyday, purchasing property can be a real pain in the butt. There’s the lack of transparency, loads of paperwork, bureaucracy, errors in public records and even the potential for fraud.
Blockchain can offer a way out of much of that by doing a lot of the heavy lifting like tracking the history of a property, verifying ownership, ensuring the accuracy of documents, and even transferring property deeds.
Not only does this speed up transactions and result in lower costs on all sides but it solves an even bigger problem when it comes to transacting items of large value, like property: trust.
Since blockchain technology automatically and irreversibly records relevant information about a property as it occurs, a new homebuyer can trust that all documents are accurate and verifiable whether the seller of the property is trustworthy or not.
Sublets & Vacation Rentals
It’s not just property purchases that blockchain will transform – it can totally change the way we conduct everyday real estate dealings like renting a sublet or vacation home.
If you thought Airbnb transformed the vacation rental industry – you’ll be happy to know that blockchain will take it even further by doing what platforms like Airbnb do without the need for the company itself.
Here’s how: Suppose you need to rent an apartment and well, it so happens that I have a really nice one that you could rent. But I’m far away and don’t want to hire a real estate agent or a broker to draft up a rental contract with you. The solution is simple, we would pre-program a smart contract on the Ethereum Blockchain and input a few conditions.
For example, you need the apartment starting on the 10th of December. We would make the conditions like so: You send payment to the smart contract by the 5th of December, once the contract receives your funds it will automatically send you a digital key to the apartment on the 6th of December.
That’s pretty much how that would work. So, if you don’t send the funds, you don’t get the key, if I don’t send the key, you get your funds back. Absolutely no need for middlemen like agents and brokers – thus, no need for fees. Isn’t that fantastic?
It’s not just real estate where a lack of transparency impedes transactions – it’s car sales, too. The process of buying or selling a car is something that pretty much all of us go through several times throughout our lives and yet, it still remains a trickier-than-necessary process.
But blockchain technology has the potential to make things like the sleazy used car salesman a thing of the past. How so? There are already companies like CarPass that are building a platform to provide car histories so that consumers have a way to verifiably track a vehicle’s life events.
That includes telematics data that tracks how and where a car has been driven – i.e. on well-paved highways or in rough, outdoor settings where the engine has been worked hard – as well as artificial intelligence algorithms that can predict the resale value of the car.
Even big car companies like Toyota are exploring the blockchain space, recently unveiling projects that use blockchain technology to monitor and distribute information about the safety of individual vehicles as well as the way owners use the cars.
And the implications of this is huge for consumers of the automotive industry – improving everything from safety to transparency.
Remember the brouhaha over voter fraud during and after the 2016 US elections? Well, that wasn’t the first time accusations were flung over rigged election results…but wouldn’t it be nice if it could be the last time?
Well, blockchain technology has the potential to make voter fraud a thing of the past. In the future, blockchain tools can transform the entire process of voting by serving as an impartial, error-free foundational infrastructure for casting, tracking and counting votes.
The entire process could be streamlined as blockchain is used for voter registration, identity verification and electronic vote counting to create a verifiable audit trail that ensures everyone gets their fair vote, only legitimate votes are counted and that no votes are changed or removed.
Creating such an immutable, publicly-verifiable ledger of recorded votes not only ensures fair and democratic elections, but also eliminates the need for recounts and suspicions of voter fraud. Even better? You may not have to stand in line all day to get your vote in.
Another very interesting aspect of our lives and one that raises much concern is our fragmented healthcare system. And yes, blockchain technology could transform this space as well – and in ways that would have far-reaching implications for our health.
BurstiQ is one such example of how blockchain and cryptocurrency is progressively entering our lives, without us even noticing. This ICO has found the antidote to a fragmented healthcare system. It is a platform that leverages blockchain and machine intelligence to bring data together in a single, unified data repository, from disparate sources.
The data can be shared quickly and easily and it remains HIPAA compliant. Currently, the data and all of our medical records are compartmentalized in numerous different sources. It can only be viewed and analysed separately and it is very difficult to compile all of the data of even just one person, let alone that of an entire population.
The present disparate setup limits its usability and potential to increase life expectancy and ultimately its potential
for saving lives. The convergence of all of these data sources, now made possible using blockchain technology and cryptocurrency, provides a solution to our fragmented healthcare and propels us into an entire new level of existence.
One in which our health and our quality of life benefits beyond our imagination.
How so? The convergence of our health data into a unified data repository enables research to grow exponentially as scientists now have access to all of the existing data within minutes. The wealth of information, accessible within minutes, sets the stage for advanced research and development, enabling scientists to test new medication and discover cures for life-threatening illnesses more accurately.
It even goes a step further and introduces us to an individualized healthcare system, customized to each individual’s unique biological, demographic and social make-up. Not only does it enable people to take full control of their health and their own data but burstiQ has even created something called a LifeGraph™.
Based on a person’s entire genetic and social make-up, accurately decrypted from their personal data, it can predict which illnesses the individual is most prone to and help them take the relevant measures to protect themselves accordingly.
And that is just one example. The possibilities are truly endless in this space. Not only does can blockchain technology in healthcare place people in the seat of control regarding their health and their lives, but it opens the person up to a world of customized health services, benefits and products at the touch of a finger.
Here’s an exciting arena that most people don’t associate with blockchain technology: the music we love to listen to every day of our lives. While we enjoy the creations of talented artists in every genre – the artists themselves are often left with crumbs.
Currently, a lot of them have to go through record labels or tech companies like Spotify to sell their work. And as with most cases when middlemen are involved, you can bet that many of the middlemen take much of the value for themselves.
But with the direction the blockchain is headed, artists will soon be free to write their own rules when it comes to their creations.
For example, a recording artist can add digital watermarks to their products, proving ownership. Then, they can freely distribute their work on the blockchain to whomever wants to buy it – without having to pay substantial royalties and fees and while retaining full creative content control and rights.
Even better, artists can create smart contracts specifying how their work is to be used and how they’ll be compensated for it. As a recording artists posts her music on a blockchain music platform, she can embed in a smart contract how much she’ll be paid when someone listens to the music, uses the music as a soundtrack for a movie, or uses it for a ring tone.
The best part for the artists, of course, is the fact that no middlemen means no fees – leaving the artist to reap the rewards of her creations. Many artists are quickly catching on to these benefits. Famous Icelandic music artist, Bjork, already started selling her most recent album on the blockchain for bitcoins.
Remember the baby spinach E. coli contamination back in 2006? It killed 3 people. Then there was PCA’s peanut butter Salmonella outbreak in 2009 – that claimed 9 lives. More recently, Mexican cucumbers, Foster Farms brand chicken, Taco Bell and Chipotle all had incidents of food contamination.
And whereas most of us associate food poisoning with hours slumped over the toilet, foodborne illness can be a lot more serious. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that these cases cause 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths annually.
So it’s a good thing that blockchain technology can help contain the outbreaks before they spread.
As of now, tracking down contaminated food is a messy, complex affair and it can take food companies and retailers weeks to pinpoint the exact products they need to recall. But thanks to blockchain technology that could be used to track food throughout the complex global supply chain – this identification could happen in minutes, preventing countless illnesses and even death.
As you can see from the list above, blockchain is poised to disrupt areas of our lives we don’t typically think about in relation to technological innovations. Like law enforcement, which can benefit tremendously from blockchain integration.
Take for example, police investigations, where maintaining the integrity of the chain of evidence is critical. A tamper-proof, distributed record kept via blockchain makes a secure evidence-handling process possible.
Blockchain can even be used to glad certain transaction patterns, alerting police when someone engages in suspicious financial activity.
There’s even blockchain applications for gun ownership and usage, allowing gun possession-related information to be logged via blockchain, providing authorities a connected infrastructure to quickly track down unlawfully used weapons.
As you can see, this list can go on and on. And the reason for this is that blockchain’s most revolutionary aspect is that it eliminates the need for a middleman. So the next time you find yourself wondering – what industry is blockchain technology going to completely turn on its head? Think of any industry that currently relies on a middleman and mentally add it to this list.