What is Blockchain?
Defined as “an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value” by Blockchain Revolution authors Don and Alex Tapscott, the technology holds massive promise for multiple industries, particularly in regards to securing data.
Information held on a Blockchain exists as a shared and continually reconciled database. Because the data isn’t stored in any single location, no centralized version of this information exists for hackers to corrupt.
Hosted by millions of computers simultaneously, the data is accessible to anyone on the internet, making it public and verifiable. Blockchain can only be updated with the consent of the majority of its participants. Once entered, information can never be erased, allowing for the creation of a definite and verifiable record of “digital events.”
How Blockchain is used today
Industries like financial services, cybersecurity, education, healthcare, supply chain, and governments have begun to explore the application of Blockchain for a variety of uses; however, most uses remain experimental.
We look at how these sectors are implementing this technology. Read the highlights below, and download our audience insights on the opportunities and challenges of Blockchain for a more in-depth look.
Healthcare organizations have outpaced a lot of other industries when it comes to Blockchain adoption: they are even ahead of the financial industry.
According to a study from IBM surveying 200 healthcare executives across 16 countries, 16 percent of surveyed healthcare organizations expect to have a commercial Blockchain solution at scale in 2017—scaling at higher rates than the banking or financial market enterprises IBM also surveyed.
With Blockchain, healthcare organizations can capture an individual’s lifetime medical history. Privacy concerns can be managed via permissionless Blockchains, where all parties can view all records, or permissioned Blockchains, where privacy can be maintained following an agreement on which parties can view what transactions and when it’s necessary to mask the identity of the party.
Educational institutions are turning to Blockchain as a way to avoid fraudulent certifications as well as to ease record-keeping needs for students and alumna.
While existing paper-based certification systems may be subject to loss or fraud, the need for a centralized database of credentials and achievements has become critical in the face of an increasingly mobile and digital population.
Governments are turning to Blockchain as a potential means to better serve their citizens and improve processes for public administrative functions. The ability to record transactions on distributed ledgers offers new approaches for governments to improve transparency, prevent fraud, and establish trust.
Seven in ten government officials predict Blockchain will significantly disrupt the area of contract management, while another 14 percent expect to have Blockchains in production and at scale in 2017. Half of these trailblazers have already invested in three primary areas: asset management, identity management, and regulatory compliance.
The potential for industry-wide disruption in energy is vast. The first Blockchain-powered energy transaction took place in March 2016 in Brooklyn, NY. The peer-to-peer exchange involved the transaction of energy produced by domestic solar panels exchanged locally. Just over a year later, Blockchain technology in energy trading is becoming an active part of the market.
According to the Harvard Business Review, the coming shift in the industry will have both utilities and consumers producing and selling electricity provided the technology proves to be both reliable and scalable. If so, it will drive the transition to what the energy industry calls a “distributed world,” in which both large and smaller power generation systems exist for homes, businesses, and communities.
Blockchain is poised to create major cost- and time-saving opportunities for the supply chain, logistics, and transportation sectors.
It can be seen as a new method of tracking any kind of shipment or transaction, in any kind of supply chain. With each participant in the supply chain or transaction keeping their own live record of all their information, the potential to tamper with the data decreases.
Blockchain could be applied to optimize freight flows by publicly identifying empty containers and using them for shipping purposes, thus increasing efficiency.