4 Alternative Uses For The Blockchain

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I mentioned in one of my recent blogs that I don’t think that decentralised finance like Bitcoin or NFTs for art are the best applications of blockchain technology, and I wanted to explore the wider world of this exciting tech frontier with some alternative uses of blockchain.

The B2B applications of the blockchain for automated contracts between trading partners

Blockchain technology is often only really discussed as a B2C tool, but there are a whole host of B2B applications as well.

As a million different dad jokes point out with varying degrees of hostility, lawyers cost a tonne of money.

To hire a legal team to fight a business case can be a crippling cost for a lot of organisations, especially if you work in an area like manufacturing or retail where there are multiple different vendors and partners that you have different contracts with. This can lead to disastrous consequences if not managed properly.

Blockchain technology like Chronicled is out to alleviate some of the pressures of managing those partner relationships and contracts by moving them all onto a blockchain. To understand how this works, you have to understand how smart contracts work. 

Basically, a smart contract is a bunch of code that produces a desired outcome when a certain criteria is determined to have been met. 

A real world example of this is that two companies decide to go into business together, and Company A agrees to send Company B a product when Company B gives them $1000. A smart contract would be enabled that would wait until proof was provided that Company B transferred Company A $1000, and then it would automatically ship the product to Company B. 

This is obviously a super simplified example, and smart contracts can handle loads of criteria and stakeholders, but you can already see the utility of a transparent, immutable, open and anonymous log of all transactions for businesses. With this kind of technology, business disputes will be incredibly quick to solve, partnerships easier to manage and reporting easily obtained on the minutiae of business dealings. 

Using blockchain for private identity storage for displaced people

One of the core features of blockchain technology is that it is decentralised, meaning that in theory there should be no single point of failure, and any application built on top of the blockchain is safe from censorship. 

Another core feature is that users on the blockchain are anonymous. On a blockchain, you can see all of the transactions and blocks, but actual users are anonymous, and only able to access the things they own on the blockchain with a special private key. 

These two key features could make it perfect for either displaced or repressed people to store their identities. 

Around 1 billion people in the world are unable to verify their identity, usually due to over reliance on paper documentation that is destroyed or lost, incompetent infrastructure in their home country or by repression and/or corruption from their governments. 

A large-scale, distributed and anonymous system for storing and retrieving identity documents, birth certificates, proof of qualification and employment records could be a genuine lifesaver for hundreds of millions of people if it can be implemented in the correct way. 

If you want to read more about the problems with the current centralised system of identity verification, please check out this blog by the UNCHR!  

Interoperable medical records on the blockchain

Imagine you go to your GP for a symptom you are experiencing, they refer you to a specialist, who then sends you for a scan, and then you return to the specialist who provides you a prescription for you to go to the pharmacy. 

That’s a lot of steps! And there’s plenty that could go wrong along the way, for example, miscommunication between two of the healthcare professionals could lead to longer wait times and more pain for the patient. 

By implementing a medical blockchain, healthcare professionals and patients alike could have easy and quick access to medical records, with a single source of truth without a single point of failure.

Even more excitingly, AI healthcare solutions (which I’ve written about before) could be built on top of this blockchain, so users could easily opt in to allow their data to be part of training AI that will speed up diagnosis and treatment for patients around the world. 

And again, the anonymous nature of the blockchain would mean that despite it being open, no one would be able to tie specific medical records to you, unless they were someone you wanted to share them with like a medical professional, with which you would share your key and they could access your records.

Getting rid of real estate agents finally with blockchain real estate

Slightly harsh heading there but we move. Buying a house or completing any kind of property based transaction including renting can be an absolute nightmare. 

Long wait times, multiple opinions and checks and tenuous property chains all take a toll on what could be a relatively simple transaction. It also relies heavily on paper documents, and if anything is a signifier that blockchain could be useful, it’s an over reliance on paper documentation.

The UK has actually already completed a trial of using blockchain technology in real estate, and it was an overwhelming success, cutting the time to completion down from 3 months to 3 weeks. The firm who ran this study estimated that widespread adoption of blockchain technology in real estate would save people a total of $160 billion!

As with the B2B examples listed earlier, the key to this application of blockchain is the smart contract side of the technology.

A lot of the time in property chains you are waiting for something like a survey to be conducted, and then once that’s completed, the estate agents in charge have to react and initiate the next stage of the transaction. With blockchain that next stage would be initiated automatically, which is where you see the time and money savings, as human error is negated. 

Real estate agents won’t be needed every step of the way and in fact, I could see them becoming more and more digitally savvy as they become the people who build and initiate smart contracts for clients at the start of the transaction, and then leaving the blockchain tech to do its thing for the duration of the sale. As with every application of blockchain technology, companies and brands who work in the disrupted space are going to need to adapt to survive, so it’s best to brush up on your blockchain basics now!

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