If your industry deals with data or transactions of any kind, it is a field that can likely be disrupted by blockchain technology.
The blockchain is a distributed ledger technology that underlies cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and platforms like Ethereum. It provides a way to record and transfer data that is transparent, safe, auditable, and resistant to outages.
Some say that the blockchain will do to banking what the internet did to media. It can be used to give access to financial services to billions of people around the world, including those in third world countries who don’t have access to traditional banking.
Bitcoin allows anyone to send money across borders almost instantly and with relatively low fees. Abra is one startup that is working on a bitcoin-based remittance service.
With blockchain technology, transactions can be documented in a permanent decentralized record and monitored securely and transparently. This can greatly reduce time delays and human mistakes. It can also be used to monitor costs, labor, and even waste and emissions at every point of the supply chain.
The blockchain is set to change the entire approach to research, consulting, analysis and forecasting. Online platforms like Augur are looking to create global decentralized prediction markets. These technologies can be used to place and monitor bets on anything from sports to stocks to elections in a decentralized way.
Samsung and IBM are using blockchain technology for a new concept called ADEPT, which will create a decentralized network of IoT devices. Operating like a public ledger for a large number of devices, it would eliminate the need for a central location to handle communications between IoT Devices.
The global insurance market is based on trust management. The blockchain is a new way of managing trust and can be used to verify many types of data in insurance contracts, such as the insured person’s identity. So-called oracles can be used to integrate real-world data with blockchain smart contracts.
The blockchain can be used to create decentralized versions of peer-to-peer ridesharing apps, allowing both car owners and users to arrange terms and conditions in a secure way without third party providers. Startups like Arcade City and La’Zooz have built-in e-wallets can allow car owners to automatically pay for parking.
Data on a centralized server is inherently vulnerable to hacking, data loss, or human error. Using blockchain technology allows cloud storage to be more secure and robust against attacks. Storj is one example of a cloud storage network using the technology.
Common complaints in the charity space include inefficiency and corruption, which prevent money from reaching those that are meant to have it. Using blockchain technology to track donations can let you be sure your money is going to end up in the right hands. BitGive Foundation uses blockchain’s secure and transparently distributed ledger.
Probably one of the most important areas of society that the blockchain will disrupt is voting. Creating an immutable, publicly-viewable ledger of recorded votes would be a massive step toward making elections more fair and democratic. Democracy Earth and Follow My Vote are two startups aiming to disrupt democracy.
Government systems are often slow, opaque, and prone to corruption. Implementing blockchain-based systems can significantly reduce bureaucracy and increase security, efficiency, and transparency of government operations. Dubai, for example, is aiming to put all its government documents on the blockchain by 2020.
The public benefits system is another sector that suffers from slowness and bureaucracy. Blockchain technology can help assess, verify, and distribute welfare or unemployment benefits in a much more streamlined and secure way. GovCoin is a UK-based company that is helping the government to distribute public benefits.
Blockchain technology can allow hospitals to safely store data like medical records and share it with authorized professionals or patients. This can improve data security and can even help with accuracy and speed of diagnosis. Gem and Tierion are two companies that are working on disrupting the current healthcare data space.
Energy management has been a highly centralized industry for a long time. Energy producers and users cannot buy it directly from each other and have to go through the public grid or a trusted private intermediary. TransactiveGrid is a startup using Ethereum that allows customers to buy and sell energy from each other in a peer-to-peer way.
Several startups are coming up with ways for musicians to get paid directly from their fans, without giving up large percentages of sales to platforms or record companies. Smart contracts can also be used to automatically solve licensing issues and better catalog songs with their respective creators. Mycelia and Ujo Music are two startups creating blockchain-based solutions in the music industry.
Decentralized blockchain-based retail utilities work differently: they connect buyers and sellers without a middle man and associated fees. In these cases, trust comes from smart contract systems, the security of exchanges, and built-in reputation management systems. One startup disrupting the retail space is OpenBazaar.
Some of the issues in buying and selling real estate are bureaucracy, lack of transparency, fraud, and mistakes in public records. Using blockchain technology can speed up transactions by reducing the need for paper-based record keeping. It can also help with tracking, verifying ownership, ensuring the accuracy of documents, and transferring property deeds. Ubiquity is a blockchain-secured platform for real estate record-keeping that is an alternative for legacy paper based systems.
Crowdfunding has become a popular method of fundraising for new start-ups and projects in recent years. Crowdfunding platforms exist to create trust between project creators and supporters, but they also charge high fees. New projects can raise funds by releasing their own tokens that represent value and can later be exchanged for products, services, or cash.