Supply chain management, asset management and banking are huge industries which have been touted as the first areas where blockchain can provide immediate benefit. However, blockchain can be applied to many more situations.
Bitcoin futures have recently been added to Cboe (the Chicago-based derivatives exchange) but blockchain’s impact on the industry could extend far deeper. The ability for smart contracts and oracles (agents that verify real-world occurrences which are contingencies for the contracts to execute) to improve the efficiency of trading is very real. This would ensure that trade fraud can be minimised and transparency between trading partners can be ensured. Oracles act as data feeds for a blockchain network. For example: if an option is being traded and is contingent on the price of the underlying asset, which may be company stock or gold bullion, falling below a certain level, the oracle will be able to track the price of the asset and flag if the price is at an acceptable level on the day the trade is due to go through.
Do you ever wonder where your money ends up after you donate it? Charity is inherently prone to corruption and inefficiency. The money often goes to countries where citizens are less fortunate or to areas of an economy where oversight is less stringent. Blockchain could allow donators to see where their money ends up; improving transparency in the industry and increasing the propensity for people to give as their fear of deceit are reduced.
Elections around the world depend on integrity from both voters and political institutions to be successful and work in the interests of the country. A blockchain network underpinning the voting process would help to protect voter registration, verification, vote authenticity and vote counting. This would also improve the speed of the system and allow authorised citizens living overseas to vote quickly and securely from wherever they might be. The results of the election would be unable to be manipulated. As a result, a blockchain-based voting system would provide everyone with a public ledger of the country’s votes, cementing transparency into the entire process.
Across the world, healthcare is an industry which often depends on legacy systems and bureaucratic processes. In this case, blockchain can provide a secure system for the sharing of private patient data/records between patients and doctors, as well as between different healthcare providers when necessary.
With a huge number of items, including some very expensive, specialised ones, hospitals can also use blockchain to manage these assets. From scalpels to MRI machines, managing inventory of equipment is incredibly important to the successful operation of healthcare facilities. Blockchain can support asset tracking and management in this environment and allow staff to see where and when their equipment can be used.
Energy is a highly regulated industry with a tradition of large natural monopolies controlling the market. Blockchain has the potential to disrupt the industry by allowing smaller parties, even individuals, to trade amongst each other. This has particular importance as we consider the rise of households generating their own electricity. A consumer who has solar panels on their roof would be able to sell excess energy directly to a neighbour and receive payment over the blockchain.