When trust meets technology, you get blockchain.
Blockchain technology has been a game changer for transacting, sharing information, and defining trust in the rapidly evolving digital world. Blockchain platforms serve as a digital database or ledger system that fosters transparency and accountability in a business network by recording transactions and tracking assets.
While blockchain applications have been largely associated with cryptocurrency software and bitcoins, the technology has the power to revolutionize several industries by offering secure and decentralized solutions.
What are the top applications of blockchain technology?
Blockchain technology is being used across almost every industry, including:
- Finance and banking
- Real estate
- Supply chain and logistics
- Voting and governance
- Internet of Things (IoT)
- Media and advertising
Businesses can build applications of blockchain for any purpose, like digital payments or supply chain, through blockchain platforms, often hosted by blockchain as a service providers. This distributed ledger technology (DLT) redefines how we operate in the digital economy by establishing trust and security for all.
How does blockchain work?
Blockchain is a decentralized digital ledger system that records and verifies transactions and information across a network of computers called nodes. Its core components comprise decentralization, transparency, immutability, and automation.
If we break down the term blockchain, we get block and chain. So to understand how it works, imagine a chain of blocks, where each block represents a data set. These blocks are connected in a distinct order to create a continuous chain.
Each node maintains a copy of the entire blockchain to ensure that the information is consistent and not controlled by a single commodity. This means that once a block is added to the chain, it’s difficult for any single entity to manipulate the stored data without alerting everyone in the blockchain network.
This secure data distribution is possible through a hash, which is generated from a cryptographic hashing algorithm. Hash is a digital fingerprint unique to each block and ensures that any slight change in the block’s data would result in a completely different hash.
Furthermore, to add a new block to the blockchain, its authenticity has to be validated via consensus. Consensus is a mechanism that ensures there are no discrepancies in the state of the distributed ledger. It’s essential in maintaining the integrity of the blockchain. Once consensus validates the block, it’s added permanently to the blockchain. This action is then distributed across all nodes to update their copies.
Now that we’re clear on how blockchain works, let’s dive deep into some of the applications of blockchain technology across different industries and sectors.
Blockchain applications in healthcare
By embracing blockchain solutions, healthcare providers can modernize operations, maintain data integrity, and enhance patient care. Blockchain doesn’t encounter privacy breaches like traditional methods, where the risk of unauthorized access exists. It also enables secure data interoperability in real time, reducing administrative inefficiencies.
Here’s a look into what blockchain applications in healthcare comprise.
1. Secure electronic health records (EHRs)
Medical professionals can’t access complete patient history when patient data gets siloed. To overcome this problem, a blockchain-based system is linked to existing EHR software. The decentralized system stores and manages EHRs securely and provides a single view of a patient’s record. It also gives patients the freedom to approve changes to their EHRs, authorize who can view them, and control how they are shared by healthcare providers.
2. Clinical trial research
Clinical trials and continuous medical research are part of what takes a healthcare system to the next level. However, such initiatives are often burdened with data integrity issues. The blockchain serves as the single source of truth for research and trial data. It improves and secures record keeping and sharing while maintaining patient privacy.
Blockchain also asserts ethical checkpoints to ensure the trial is completed while staying compliant.
3. Pharmaceutical supply chain management
One of the persistent challenges in the healthcare industry is confirming the authenticity of medicines and pharmaceutical products. Blockchain offers visibility into each stage of the supply chain, enabling complete visibility and traceability of medical goods.
In a sector where counterfeit products cause thousands of deaths every year, the implementation of blockchain is one of the most secure and legit solutions to prevent such circumstances.
4. Verification of staff credentials
Similar to blockchain applications in supply chain management, the technology can track the records and credentials of medical professionals to streamline hiring processes. Trusted medical records with staff credentials are accessible to other healthcare organizations as needed. This practice enforces transparency when sharing staff details with patients.
5. Remote patient monitoring
Patient monitoring solutions have created one of the biggest shifts in the medical world. Healthcare practitioners are using advanced sensors to measure patients’ vital signs to provide enhanced preventative and proactive care remotely.
Blockchain supports it by providing encrypted communication and securing such devices from cyberattacks tampering with personal data.
Blockchain applications in finance and banking
Blockchain technology lies at the heart of the digital transformation in banking. It has evolved from crypto to securing loans, digital transactions, and online payments. It has become one of the most widely used technologies in fintech. Blockchain in banking and financial services enables efficient processes, reduced costs, and secure networks.
Check out some of the most common blockchain applications in finance and banking.
6. Smart contracts
Smart contracts software is built on blockchain-based platforms that automate the execution of agreements, reducing the need for intermediaries. They permit trusted transactions and agreements between two parties without a central authority. Smart contracts have several uses, including real estate, trading, healthcare, supply chain, and dispute resolution.
7. Digital currencies
With blockchain enabling and normalizing the use of digital currencies, financial trading, and transactions are much faster and more secure than ever. It has also paved the way for the development of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs).
Furthermore, this new and efficient framework of digital assets exchange has opened the possibility of digital currencies becoming standard in the future.
8. Cross-border payments
By providing real-time tracking and secure payment gateways, blockchain has made cross-border payments faster, safer, and highly cost-effective. By reducing the element of a middleman and transaction fees, blockchain has enabled banks and customers to transact more frequently.
9. Regulatory compliance
Blockchain provides transparent and auditable records of digital transactions, which helps financial institutions meet regulatory requirements. Banks can also intercept suspicious transactions and digital banking activities on time by streamlining the auditing process with blockchain technology.
10. Asset management
There are many ways through which blockchain solutions make asset management more advanced. It digitizes the portfolio and existing holdings for wider market access, liquidity, and ease of transfer. Blockchain also improves investor and stakeholder governance through customizable built-in privacy settings.
Blockchain applications in real estate
Businesses and professionals are becoming increasingly cognizant of blockchain applications in the real estate sector. It can transform property management and sales, optimize payments, and increase investment opportunities.
Here’s a look into the different uses of blockchain in real estate.
11. Fractional ownership and asset tokenization
Through blockchain, the process of real estate investment is repurposed, allowing investors to buy and sell fractional shares instead of pooling all their money to acquire property. Asset tokenization platforms built on blockchain let you create a digital token of ownership for real-world liquid assets. Once assets are tokenized, investors only need a trading app to execute borderless international trading.
12. Loan and mortgage security
Blockchain solves many challenges that come with paper documentation for loans and mortgages. Digitization of such documents provides access to critical information that supports future decisions like ownership rights and loan payment history.
13. Land registration
By letting go of the paper system, blockchain serves as the single resource in the form of an immutable ledger system. It tracks and updates any changes in the database, including land titles, boundaries, and land use planning. The digitization of such processes eliminates any excessive administrative costs and prevents fraudulent transactions.
14. Property management
Large-scale enterprises and startups often lack oversight of their portfolio. Blockchain in real estate secures data sharing and payment processes, providing effective due diligence across the global portfolio. It also simplifies all property management communication between owners, tenants, and service providers.
15. Urban planning
Any form of property development can’t happen without feedback from the community. However, people often feel deprived of the planning process or unable to express their preferences. Through blockchain, platforms can focus on providing educational resources and create an effective feedback loop between stakeholders to establish engagement and communication.
Blockchain applications in retail
In retail, blockchain acts as a tool for establishing trust between retailers, consumers, supply chain participants, and payment gateways. Blockchain’s ability to amplify the tracking and digitization of processes has been beneficial to the retail industry, especially during the pandemic.
Let’s break down the use of blockchain in retail below.
16. Inventory management
To improve overall efficiency, retailers need to be on top of their inventory management game. Blockchain makes this process more efficient by keeping track of the stock and expiration dates. It also automates the process of identifying product shortage or surplus, depending on consumer needs.
17. Supply chain management
By providing end-to-end visibility in the supply chain, blockchain allows all network participants to look into what’s happening in the system at any given time. It keeps track of everything throughout the product journey, addressing issues of supply chain discrepancies and lack of traceability.
18. Product authentication
Blockchain’s ability to verify product provenance has helped companies combat counterfeiting by identifying its proof of origin. By scanning blockchain-based radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, customers can extract details about the manufacturing process of a product, along with its ingredients and certifications.
19. Protection against cyber attacks
The issue of data privacy is common in every industry, and retail is no exception. Blockchain increases customer data security by storing encrypted data, which prevents unauthorized access or other cybersecurity breaches. This also benefits companies by gaining customer trust, which ultimately adds up to higher revenue.
20. Transparent product reviews
Another aspect of gaining customer trust is blockchain-based review systems. These systems are secured against unauthorized tampering and generate authentic reviews from customers. Trusted customer feedback builds credibility for the brand, resulting in increased customer loyalty and engagement.
Other applications of blockchain
Here are some more examples of blockchain applications across industries.
21. Voting and governance: Blockchain-based voting systems enhance the security and transparency of elections. Each vote is tamper-proof and auditable for easy verification and validation. Therefore, blockchain rids the system of voter fraud and any kind of data manipulation.
22. Intellectual property management: Blockchain supports the registration of intellectual property rights by making the process faster, more accurate, cost-effective, and secure. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are built on the ethereum blockchain and add visibility of ownership and ease of trading for digital assets.
23. Energy trading: Blockchain technology combined with IoT devices enables consumers to trade and purchase energy directly from the grid rather than from retailers. It also provides an immutable record of meter readings, energy generation, and consumption data.
24. Insurance: With blockchain, insurance companies streamline all the processes, including claims processing, fraud detection, and underwriting. It also supports customer data protection by storing policy data in a tamper-proof ledger system, which improves accountability and trust.
25. Education: Educational institutions can verify candidate credentials and certifications through blockchain. They can access and share this data securely with authorized personnel, giving them full control. Also, blockchain can develop decentralized e-learning content software for securing educational content ownership.
26. Media and entertainment: While the media and entertainment industry is yet to utilize the full potential of blockchain, the technology helps artists and content creators get their dues, both in terms of revenue and copyrights. It also offers support for tackling piracy and fraud.
Think inside the blocks
Blockchain has immense potential for every industry out there. From cryptocurrencies to voting systems, blockchain has a broad spectrum of use cases that transform the way we have been functioning for years. It’s like a digital superpower that supports every sector and leaves it better than ever by breaking it free from flawed traditional systems.
And this is just the beginning. Blockchain will continue to evolve and transform the digital world, one block at a time. As technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data become more efficient over the coming years, technology will converge with human creativity to present countless possibilities.
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