One of the most prevalent emerging technologies today, blockchain, has begun to redefine how we can manage our data and keep it secure, in a time where privacy and security is increasingly important. Platforms based on blockchain can allow for increased transparency, more efficiently organized data, and can allow for people to gain access to only parts of the data that they need to be privy to.
As sustainability and transparency are both becoming increasingly more prominent in today’s world, blockchain offers a solution to give customers confidence in the products they buy. With blockchain, it becomes possible to track goods in every part of the supply chain, from its origin to when it ends up in the hands of the consumer. This allows for producers to better track exactly what is happening to the product and helps to make the supply chain a lot leaner. Overall, the whole supply chain can be much more efficient benefitting all the parties involved, from the producer all the way to the end consumer. Heineken has already taken steps to use blockchain in their supply chain and has displayed this by demonstrating how scanning a QR code on a bottle can give data about the complete environmental footprint of the bottle of beer.
Blockchain can make it easier to track product sales, and adjust product distribution accordingly, leading to less food waste. Implementing blockchain can make the shipping process much faster, and less of a product’s shelf life would be wasted in the supply chain, which can also help contribute to lower food waste. When researchers initially tried to figure out which farm a specific mango originated from, it took them about 7 days to get an answer. Using blockchain allowed them to speed up this process massively, and it only took seconds to figure out the origin farm. With this speed, it is much easier to figure out exactly where a potentially recalled product is, and remove it from store shelves, potentially within minutes of a recall happening therefore improving consumer safety.
The automotive industry stands to gain a lot from blockchain, as new blockchain based platforms can help companies sell new services to consumers. With blockchain, it will become much easier to view a vehicle’s full history at any time necessary, including data such as previous owners, maintenance history, etc. It can also become much harder to tamper with a vehicle’s odometer, as a blockchain based solution can be implemented to log the mileage of the vehicle. This data can also help define the value of a vehicle much more accurately. Blockchain makes it easier to execute agreements and transactions in real time, which allows users to monetize car trips safely, which is important as the demand for ridesharing increases in the market. Payments can become much more seamless with a blockchain-based platform, which users could use to easily pay for tolls, parking, electric vehicle charging, and more. Finally, vehicle safety can be improved to a degree with blockchain, as secondhand owners can now receive information about recalls. Currently, car manufacturers typically only know who initially purchased the vehicle from the dealer, and not anyone who might’ve purchased the vehicle second hand.
Another use case for blockchain comes in the luxury goods market. As blockchains are designed to be transparent, any product tracked over a blockchain can be traced all the way to the acquisition of the raw material. This gives consumers confidence in the authenticity and knowledge that a product was made ethically. This also helps decrease the potential of fraud, because all goods can be traced, and it’s possible to track whether a certain item is a stolen good or not. Luxury brands, such as Louis Vuitton, are already trying to incorporate this, with the new platform known as AURA . This is important when buying something of high value, such as diamonds. Buyers can both verify their authenticity, and whether they were ethically sourced or not.
One of the biggest restrictions that is present as we continue to shift things online, including identification information, is the issue of safety. This information is potentially vulnerable to hackers. There is a possibility in the future that would allow for someone’s identity to be verified without always needing to view that information. For example, someone can determine the validity of your date of birth without being able to check what that exact date is. Rather, they would just look at the signature confirming its authenticity (for instance, a signature from a trusted party such as a government agency). People would benefit with an increased level of privacy going into the future, as they no longer must share specific details with others, rather just proof of authenticity via blockchain.
The added security, privacy, and convenience that comes from using blockchain makes it very appealing in the healthcare industry. Patients can have a new level of control over their data and can have the ability to do things like grant researchers access to specific parts of their data for a specific amount of time. The transparency provided by using blockchain can also serve to reduce the prevalence of counterfeit drugs, and to hold people accountable if they were to incorrectly prescribe someone drugs they shouldn’t be prescribing.
Blockchain has the potential to change how we interact with the IoT in the future. Blockchain based platforms are much more efficient, given that they’re based off of peer-to-peer connections, and because IoT products are constantly in need of communicating with each other, this means that these new platforms are far more scalable in infrastructure size than a normal server-client system. Because blockchain updates information in real time, it can help pave the way for increasingly smarter products in our everyday lives, even paving the way for things like smart cities. Roads can open and close lanes in real time to control the flow of traffic.
Overall, blockchain’s impact on the economy will be significant, as it will help cut down the time and cost associated with transacting information securely. The transparency blockchain provides also contributes to increased trust between the transacting parties. Finally, blockchain helps govern to what degree of access data will be visible to certain parties, thereby encouraging industry players to share data within their respective ecosystems.