Blockchain is a global online database that anyone with an internet connection can use, but it doesn't belong to anyone. In early 2017, the Harvard Business Review suggested that blockchain is a foundational technology and "has the potential to create new foundations for our economic and social systems."
Although its impact is more apparent on such industries as financing and healthcare, such a technology will surely touch manufacturing and consumer purchases at some point.
This just-published Inc.com article explains more about the technology and the industries where it will initially have the most impact.
Excerpted from Inc.com
The future is about to change with blockchain. A blockchain is essentially a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography. The first work on a cryptographically secured chain of blocks was described in 1991 by Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta.
While blockchain is still fairly new to most consumers, experts are beginning to understand that banking and payments aren't the only industries that could be affected by blockchain technology. Other industries could also be affected by this new phenomenon in the future.
With every paradigm shift, there are winners and losers, and just as the internet disrupted the way we communicate, blockchain will disrupt a number of industries. The world's crypto-currency market is worth more than $100 billion. Startups are already using blockchain to push transparency and trustworthiness within the digital information ecosystem. Here are six industries blockchain technology is aiming to disrupt in the not-so distant future.
1. Global Logistics and Shipping
The logistics industry is ripe for a major change, as there are several layers involved in the process. From drivers, carriers and haulers, to shippers and forwarders and more -- the interactions and overall shipping procedure could be downsized to be more efficient with blockchain technology.
The industry will thrive with more transparency and accountability. Blockchain would allow the public to verify products and monitor the process from end-to-end. Regulators would be better informed and involved in the process. With the use of smart contracts there would be better validation on the successful completion of delivered items.
The advertising space is dominated by a very small number of players, with Facebook and Google leading the way. These two advertising giants are taking the majority of the $550 billion advertising industry, so a little disruption could make it more competitive and affordable for small business owners.
Companies like Bitclave have set out to disrupt this system by connecting consumers directly with businesses. Using blockchain technology, the BASE (bitclave active search ecosystem) created by Bitclave will offer smaller transaction costs, faster speeds and secure data storage for users by disrupting the current search engine ecosystem controlled by Google, Facebook, and the like.
The healthcare industry deserves more security when it comes to sharing and storing data. A secure platform using blockchain technology will help in this regard, and build stronger trust between consumers and the health care providers. Hospitals will be able to safely store data and share within its industry and the patients.
The blockchain could be paired with a patient's current electronic medical record to provide a new level of data integrity and accuracy. "Patient data could then be shared across organizations without compromising the security of the information," suggests James Goodnow, Founding Partner of Lamber Goodnow. The technology would help create a "smart health profile," which will enable financial and patient information to be securely stored and accessed.
4. Real Estate
There are issues plaguing the real estate industry, such as lack of transparency, mistakes in public records and fraud. The verification process in real estate also presents challenges. Even when all conditions are met, there is always a delay in the transferring of funds from one party to another.
By decentralizing the process and using smart contracts, it will eliminate the need for expensive attorney fees, and ultimately lower closing costs. Some platforms like Ubiquity and Tierion are already working towards disrupting this platform.
From research to consulting and analysis, blockchain technology has incredible potential to disrupt the forecasting industry. With this technology, people will be able to monitor and predict stocks, sports and elections in a decentralized fashion.
Even the founder of Weatherbug, Bob Marshall, believes blockchain could do meteorology and climate change a lot of good. Experts within this industry are beginning to see blockchain's potential to boost industries such as forestry, mining, organic food, energy, fishery and more.
A popular and effective method for new startups to raise money and awareness for their products or projects is crowdfunding. But, the major setback are the high fees that these platforms charge. This happens because these platforms are essentially middlemen. If there was no need for the middleman, things like smart contracts and online reputation systems could be used to increase trust between investors and creators.
New projects could raise funds by providing tokens to users, representing value in the project, and later be exchanged for cash or products. Through token sales, many blockchain startups have raised millions of dollars during their ICO. We cannot be certain how this will pan out, but it certainly shows lot of promise for the crowdfunding industry.