Science fiction has long attempted to predict what the future looks like. From smart machines that talk to artificial reality, much of its predictions have come true in recent years; so much so that, we sound like characters in one of those plots.
One such futuristic tech that is capturing everyone’s attention is blockchain. Replacing one central authority with a distributed model, blockchain has been revolutionizing existing systems one after the other. The kind of impact that this technology can have on our future is limitless. However, there are many aspects like finance, governance, trade, that are transforming and getting democratized by blockchain even today. To understand how blockchain can affect us individually and collectively is therefore crucial. It would help us not only join the movement as an early adopter but as innovators, create new platforms for blockchain to help us create a better future.
Here are some of the top ways in which blockchain is disrupting the world.
A recent PWC report predicts that 77 per cent of financial institutions is expected to adopt this technology as early as 2020.
Cryptocurrencies may have seen fluctuating times recently, but the pundits predict that national cryptocurrencies are soon to be a norm. While China continues its ban on Bitcoin exchanges, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed a “Crypto Rouble” and Venezuela has already launched its national cryptocurrency petro (petromoneda). More and more countries will soon adopt blockchain-derived currencies, realizing the benefits of improved security, ease of transaction and more.
Cryptocurrencies aside, banks and other financial institutions are applying the blockchain technology to eliminate bureaucratic structures, improve security, facilitate faster transactions at lower costs, etc.
2. Information Security:
Imagine a world where hacked databases and breached accounts are a thing of the past! What if the future does not require a million KYC processes to be completed? How about “One digital ID to rule them all”? Fintech experts say that this is definitely on the cards!
Blockchain ensures that record-keeping is encrypted, secure and seamless. So, when you store personal data on the blockchain, your information is only released on a need-to-know basis in a wholly secure manner. This empowers every human being to track and manage online information securely, saving them from frauds and spams. Finally, refugees and the world's’ poor can obtain citizenship or record immigration with less or no hassle.
From registering your house to getting an employment contract in place, many new beginnings are submerged under a pile of legal paperwork! Thankfully, with smart contracts, this can be completely simplified. A smart contract is nothing but a digital and legally-binding agreement or rules that govern a transaction.
Each time a deal needs to be sealed, information is stored in a decentralized system that is accessible to all authorized personnel in a secure manner and transactions are verified and committed to the shared ledger through a predetermined consensus via smart contracts. So, if you have your eyes on a car, your dealer can quickly transfer the ownership from the manufacturer to you in a matter of minutes by signing a smart contract.
4. Cross-border Transactions in Trade:
Trade, currency exchange, remittance, and other cross-border transactions are always a nightmare due to the varying rules and regulations between countries. However, with digital currencies and blockchain technology, the hassle of the intermediary is removed. So, exchanges are simple, standardized, online and easy.
5. Information exchange & ecosystems:
Blockchain can be a goldmine when it comes to exchanging information across networks. For instance, a medical data repository backed by blockchain can ensure sustained treatment and analysis for a patient irrespective of location. IBM has introduced a tracking tool for shipping companies and retail chains. Eastman Kodak is building a hub for stock images. Many companies like Google, Goldman Sachs, Visa, Deloitte, etc., are heavily invested in blockchain to build such ecosystems.
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6. Resource Management:
Most resources that we consume on a day-to-day basis are controlled either centrally by the Government or authorized private players. Either system cost tremendously on the end user. But with blockchain, unused resources can be shared more in a peer-to-peer manner. For instance, Privatix Network facilitates sharing spare or idle Internet broadband to the Network in exchange for payment in crypto. While this is just the beginning, it can be scaled to many other resources like oil, natural gas, electricity, and others.
From voting to administration, every aspect of governance can be improved through blockchain technology. The decentralized system can facilitate online voting systems (which would result in a transparent and untampered ballot), better public record management (which would streamline processes, reduce/eliminate tax fraud, etc.) One of the prime movers in this field has been Estonia where all public services have access to X-Road, a decentralized digital ledger that contains information about all residents and citizens.
8. Intellectual Property:
Since blockchain works on the concept of a public ledger where the data is verified and encrypted using advanced cryptography, it can be applied to secure intellectual property, copyrights, etc. To the creative industries, this means that we can completely eliminate piracy in the near future. For instance, Spotify is working on implementing blockchain technology to manage copyrights. Yet another interesting product in this arena is Loci which is a DIY patent research tool that will streamline and simplify the process of applying for a patent by allowing token holders to buy and sell intellectual property directly. It is also predicted that blockchain technology will help fight cyber and real-life crime in the future immensely.
Blockchain is revolutionizing the retail world with its power of data accuracy and tracking. From making multiple levels of information about each and every product available to all, it empowers us to understand the detailed composition and origin of the things that we buy. This also prevents us from falling prey to counterfeit brands in the market. The technology also facilitates tracking shipments more effectively, helping us monitor the health and safety requirements and other parameters throughout the shipping journey. Payments are secure, and returns and refunds become a piece of cake with cryptocurrency transactions.
10. Internet of Things:
Blockchain technology can aid IoT devices to operate and transact in a seamless, scalable and secure manner using smart contracts. Creating a decentralized network of IoT devices also eliminates the need for a central location to handle communication, software updation, exchanging or monitoring data parameters or cleaning up bugs across devices. So irrespective of where they are, all our connected devices will operate as a combined ecosystem of cognitive knowledge.
While these industries are the front-runners in the race to apply blockchain, we can be sure that this technology shall pervade almost every industry. A new paradigm of an intuitive, responsive and connected world through Web 3.0 is in the making. While this may take time to fully become our reality, with more and more blockchain-based startups and cryptocurrencies spawning by the day, this future seems closer than ever before!
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This article was written by Sandhya Ramachandran, Content Developer at QLC. Sandhya is a multipotentialite redefining how we craft our stories & connect in a digital world.