The Integration of Blockchain with Our Everyday Lives
Thanks to Bitcoin, blockchain has gained massive popularity in the past decade.
In the early days of crypto, Bitcoin was the only known currency and although it was appreciated by the investors, it also was seen as risky and speculative. However, during the Coronavirus pandemic, investors rushed to secure their money in alternative options. For some, this was gold, and for others, it was Bitcoin. The result was that cryptocurrency prices skyrocketed.
However, the use cases of blockchain go way beyond Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.
Now, the technology behind blockchain is emerging in multiple industries as a game changer, with use cases in a number of areas such as education, supply chain, real estate, logistics, healthcare, media, and many more.
There is so much more to this emerging technology and its effects on our daily lives, as well as its different uses.
As the applications of the blockchain technology become more practical, it will become more mainstream and be perceived as more legitimate.
Traditional methods in banking, investing, socializing, traveling and ownership of any type of assets can be adapted for blockchain technology and its components.
Today, blockchain technology goes far beyond trading, sending and receiving assets. But what is this technology and how will it improve and change our personal lives long term?
Before diving into this subject, let's have a look at the reasons why this technology started to become so mainstream within only a couple of years. Why has this interest in blockchain become such a focus for so many individuals and governments?
In early April 2022, a survey of 1,037 adults was conducted by GOBankingRates, which showed that more than 83% of crypto investors had only been investing in crypto for two years or less.
One of the main reasons for this was accessibility. Access to cryptocurrencies became easy and widespread, with exchanges like Coinbase becoming public.
As cryptocurrencies started becoming mainstream, governments began to work on mass adoption scenarios for blockchain technology, as well as accepting payments in cryptocurrencies. In the early days of crypto, the industry was rejected by those governments and perceived as a shady investment. But mass adoption accelerated with El Salvador accepting Bitcoin as a legal tender in September 2021, which can now be seen as an historic move for a government.
In the past two years, retailers have steadily started accepting cryptocurrency as payment methods, facilitated by the growth of crypto wallets and payment apps.
What is the working mechanism behind his technology? How can other industries adopt it?
The technology behind blockchain works by creating public ledgers of completed transactions, which are then distributed to multiple servers. These transactions are recorded on public ledgers with details such as times, amounts, and transaction data. The beauty of this system lies in its decentralization and security. Each of these transactions is saved in a chain along with previous transactions and when it has been distributed so widely, no one - including governments- can alter or tamper with the record of these transactions. But what has now been discovered is that the technology can be adapted and used within any industry, to the benefit of all. The proof is in the pudding: a huge number of patent applications for blockchain have now been filed. Based on the research of the analytics company, Harrity, blockchain-related filings have increased significantly in recent years from 126 in 2014, to over 3,700 in 2017, and over 8,200 in 2018.
Perhaps you’re wondering how these industries will change the way in which they operate after implementing blockchain technology, and how this will affect you? Let's begin with a little reminder about smart contracts, and how communication works on the blockchain.
What Are Smart Contracts?
Blockchain technology uses smart contracts as an automatic agreement of transactions between involved parties, and thanks to these contracts, there is no need for an intermediary third party. These contracts work on a decentralized blockchain network (BTC, ETH and SOL are examples of different networks), a record of which then exists and is widely distributed.
Smart contracts are now a staple in healthcare, real estate, and even within certain government agencies.
What Are the Real-Life Use Cases for Blockchain Technology ?
- CBDC (Central Bank Digital Currency)
More governments around the world have taken notice, even those who had been fighting against the industry, such as the United States of America. Now, they are at the forefront of implementation research. Indeed, the head of the Federal Reserve Board, Lael Brainard, recently announced the possibility of establishing a central bank for digital currency.
China is another example, having already established its digital Yuan pilot application. Meanwhile, Latin America is also ready to embrace Web3 and its benefits, spearheaded by Brazil, which is merging payment providers with crypto and paving the way for mass adoption.
- Healthcare Industry
Patient-doctor privacy can be assured with the help of blockchain, with sensitive patient data stored on the blockchain, with no third party access. Not only that, but blockchain can also facilitate less expensive and more efficient patient care, as data can be saved on mobile applications and patients can be monitored from anywhere in the world, opening up healthcare to a more worldwide market.
BurstIQ is an example of a blockchain-based health solution.
- Real Estate Industry and Intellectual Property
Ownership can be registered on the blockchain registration and broker, realtor and client transactions can be automated, with instant title issuance, resulting in much easier trading.
Propy is an example of a blockchain-based real estate solution.
Also, blockchain tools can be used to determine intellectual property fraud, with blockchain technology irrefutably determining proof of ownership.
Blockchain IP use cases involve provenance authentication, registration, management of digital rights, distribution tracking, and more.
- Internet of Things (IoT)
As the number of connected devices grows rapidly (billions and billions), the Internet of Things (IoT) industry is also expanding rapidly. Forecasts tell us that by 2030, there will be 50 billion devices in active use globally. But as the number grows, there will be increased vulnerability to malicious attacks. Thanks to the integration of blockchain technology in IoT devices, security and data protection can be established more effectively.
HYPR and Xage are current examples of these security solutions.
HYPR combines smartphone technology with the ultra-secure FIDO token to create its Passwordless Authentication feature.
Xage technology is built to handle billions of devices at the same time and provides zero trust identity, data security, as well as access to the cloud, integrating Operational Technology with Information Technology, both for physical and digital operations, both locally and remotely.
- Money Transfer
Money transfer and payment processing are the most established blockchain technology use cases, enabling real-time, super-fast transactions and transforming the banking, financial services and insurance industries forever.
Circle for example, uses USDC to provide a platform to individuals from which they can run and establish their internet business.
- Securing Personal Identity
Theft of personal identity is a huge danger in the cybercrime world. The numbers from 2019 show that almost 14.4 million people became the victims of identity fraud. Theft can come in different forms, though, such as the violation or alteration of personal documents. But blockchain can provide the solution to this, through the use of its decentralized ledger, which is safe, theft-proof and immutable.
Civic is an example of the technology in action, providing a blockchain-based platform which acts like an identity card, and is integrated with a digital wallet.
Another example is Evernym, which enables its users to control their identity on the web with its Self-Sovereign Identity ecosystem.
Communication and transparency have become more of an issue in the logistics space, with the result of missteps being loss of time and money for companies. But with data transparency and source verification, blockchain technology can be used in the industry for tracking parcels and displaying the movement of goods.
Another benefit is supply chain integration, which could result in reduced delays in shipments and transactions.
DHL is already using blockchain technology for its supply chain management and logistics processes. The world-famous shipping company uses the technology for tracking and recording information about parcels and the shipments.
Another vast sector which can benefit from integration with blockchain technology is education. In this context, blockchain can be used for storing documents such as exams or graduation certificates. This technology will also prevent any changes from being made to these documents, while allowing extra information to be added to ongoing educational achievement records.
Legality can also be easily checked, as it can be automatically confirmed who created certain documents, and when.
One of the first schools using blockchain technology is the University of Nicosia in Cyprus. The university uses blockchain technology to store its graduation certificates and degrees, as well as accepting tuition payments in cryptocurrency.
Another example is in San Francisco at The Holberton School of Software Engineering. The school announced their plans to share certificates on blockchain as far back as 2017.
“For employers, it avoids having them to spend valuable time checking candidates’ educational credentials by having to call universities or pay a third party to do the job,” said the co-founder at Holberton School, Sylvain Kalache.
Blockchain integration is no longer a pipe dream or a future concern. The benefits of the technology are already visible in our lives and are being actively being applied in a number of fields, by a great many companies. This mass adoption will continue to grow on a grand scale in the near future.
But with any new technology comes the potential for abuse. We must accept this reality and take the necessary precautions against this potential abuse, rather than shying away from implementation through fear. When used wisely, blockchain technology has enormous potential to improve our lives, and we should embrace it carefully, with preparation, research and positivity.
Sources: www.mintz.com, consensys.net, builtin.com, www.upgrad.com, blogs.sap.com