Time to hit you over the head with a sweeping declaration: blockchain is a really big deal. (Hint: by “blockchain,” we’re talking about the emergent distributed-ledger technology that underlies cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. If you’re still Googling to catch up, check out this 2-minute explainer video.) While blockchain was rocketed to stardom by Bitcoin, innovators out there aren’t typecasting it quite yet— it is likely to disrupt many industries in the coming five to ten years. Let’s break that down:
Banking and Payments
Most of us have probably heard of bitcoin in the context of the silicon-valley-type crowd. But its reach actually extends considerably to those in “third-world” countries, who don’t have access to traditional banking. Bitcoin, Litecoin, and other cryptocurrencies allow anyone to send money across borders almost instantly with minimal added fees. There are also several established financial institutions— including IBM and seven European banks— that are investing in blockchain projects and startups.
Blockchain has the ability to provide rationality in an industry based on trust: since every datum in a blockchain system is used to verify the rest, it’s a reliable way to manage and verify information like insurance contracts. Have you heard of “oracles”? They can be used to integrate real-world data with smart contracts.
Right now, the healthcare system relies on a mess of legacy systems; a major challenge is the lack of a secure platform to store and share data. To add insult to (literal) injury, hospitals are often victims of hacking because of this kind of outdated infrastructure. Blockchain is a way to cut corners that will not only improve data security by safely storing medical records, but also could speed up diagnosis and save more lives.
Centralization might seem convenient, but it’s inherently vulnerable to hacking. You can take WPP companies’ word for that. Blockchain would allow cloud storage to be more secure and robust against attacks. It would provide a way to record and transfer data that is transparent, safe, auditable, and resistant to outages.
The online presence of government systems are often clunky, slow, and prone to corruption. Americans witnessed this in the latest American presidential election. Not cute. It’s high time for blockchain in these institutions— its implementation means organizations that use it will inherently be transparent, democratic, decentralized, efficient, and secure. That’s a lot of very positive adjectives.
Blockchain is bound to disrupt industries similar to how the internet disrupted the media industry. It’s here to stay. If your industry deals with data or transactions of any kind, it too can be disrupted by blockchain technology. Why don’t you give it a try?