The ubiquitous blockchainization is actually a thing. The technology which was implemented about a decade ago to underpin a system of decentralized transactions we call Bitcoin has already taken its foothold in a multitude of industries from gaming to healthcare and cybersecurity. In 2017 alone, dozens of blockchain-driven projects have emerged, and while some of them did not make it, others have proven themselves viable in their respective niches.
The reasons why blockchain technology is applicable almost everywhere are quite simple. In this information-driven age, there is hardly any industry that does not extensively use databases. However, centralized solutions are often prone to hacking as they have a single entry point, and therefore are more prone to security vulnerabilities.
Blockchain, thanks to its distributed architecture, doesn’t have all those shortcomings of centralized databases and offers utter accountability, and immutability. While applying blockchain in finance seems to be pretty much obvious, given the tech’s intended appropriation in the first place, projects from many other industries have also embraced its promise. And some of them play in big leagues now.
Cryptocurrency projects aside, blockchain has sparked interest in companies that are better described as traditional. Banks and financial services companies, while being quite cautious about new promising technologies, proved to be quite happy to jump on board the innovations train with Ripple, one of the most famous blockchain-related financial companies to date.
Often seen in the cryptocurrency community as a sellout, Ripple has garnered different opinions throughout the years of its operation. However, the list of its partners, which includes giants like Santander, UniCredit, and MoneyGram cannot fail to impress. Today, Ripple remains distributed tech’s best shot at becoming a legitimate part of the global financial system.
Hand in hand with finance, the insurance industry is also vulnerable to database breaches. Other problems inherent in insurance are fraud and customer management issues. While the industry is yet to see a solution that could rival Ripple’s effect on international finance, there are numerous other platforms that offer running insurance on decentralized ledgers.
One of them, Etherisc, as the name suggests, uses Ethereum infrastructure to create decentralized applications insuring particular risks like flight delays, health, or even crops. The company intends to create an insurance marketplace to capitalize on the risks and insurance-related services.
Just like any other industry, a real estate has its own risks. It involves too many people, from construction workers to real estate brokers, and has seen lots of ups and downs, including halted construction, property issues, and so forth. Blockchain seems to be a perfect fit for the industry, especially when it comes to dealing with complex ownership issues. However, there are numerous regulatory and legal problems with blockchain that need to be addressed so that startups in the industry could go big.
Propy is one of many other blockchain-based startups that seek to revolutionize the real estate market and the way it operates. The project is working with governments to issue title deeds in a timely and cost-effective manner. It also provides potential buyers with comprehensive information about the listed property, such as air pollution, noise, and many more. Recently, Propy facilitated the US’ first real estate deal recorded in Ethereum blockchain. Thanks to the technology’s inherent immutability, this can make any dishonest behavior with respect to real estate virtually impossible.
Advertising, especially in the digital medium, is among the most profitable industries in the world. However, the complexities of market fragmentation, various jurisdictions, privacy concerns, and of course massive frauds make these waters extremely troubled while leaving most parties involved in the process less than satisfied.
There are many projects that seek to tackle some or all of these issues in some way. One of the most prominent blockchain-powered solutions in this area is AdEx, an ad network that claims to bring blockchain’s transparency and trustworthiness to digital advertising. Last year, it was the first ever blockchain project to strike a deal with a mainstream media company, Ink, which focuses on travel media. Today, AdEx’s blockchain-powered ad network is operating in beta.
When it comes to entertainment, the most plagued issue is copyright infringement. Publishers, producers, and creators lose millions because of piracy. However, on the other end of the leash, regular users cannot often access the content they want legally and therefore have to opt for less legal methods.
Trying to solve this issue is White Rabbit, one of many blockchain-powered projects focused on entertainment. While other projects in this realm mostly deal with user-generated content, White Rabbit creates a browser plugin that allows one to find any film or TV series streamed online and pay directly to the right holders. Notably, the project was created by filmmakers and has already struck deals with content distributors.
The problem of compensating or rewarding users who create high-quality or just extremely engaging content is also quite pressing. Popular platforms like YouTube send only a small fraction of ad revenues to content creators, and the number of subscribers often remains their only consolation. This problem was pointed out on numerous occasions, yet it still persists, so there’s little wonder that alternative solutions pop up every now and then. Blockchain startups also have something to offer.
Thus, View.ly is a decentralized platform for user-uploaded videos that allows authors to upload their videos for payments made by their fans. Those payments have a form of patronage sponsorship, and the content creator can set his or her prices for watching videos on their channel.
The platform gives them numerous options to monetize their content: set up a subscription channel, create premium content that has paid access, get tips, or get their own incentives in place, like fan contests. Finally, creators can strike deal with businesses for advertisement on their channel, which opens up another streak of revenue. The platform uses blockchain and their native token for all transactions within the platform.
Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) has been a daydream of the humankind for decades and has seen numerous iterations of its very concept. The idea of a fridge knowing it’s time to go shopping, and ordering your usual food on your behalf sounds amazing. Still, the existing network infrastructure does not seem to be a great fit for connecting all household appliances together, as anyone could theoretically hack your fridge, thanks to the inherent centralization of the infrastructure. When blockchain arrived, many prominent industry players saw it as the long-awaited chance to do everything right.
None other than IBM is now working on integrating blockchain in IoT systems. The company claims that the technology can ensure the required scalability, security, cost efficiency, and architectural integrity of such a complex ecosystem.
Blockchain has been often referred to as a nearly magic solution to all problems existing in the public service realm, from the transparency of elections to recordkeeping. While governments, as an institution, are traditionally conservative and even more cautious about some new tech than banks, there are examples of blockchain technology being used in government services as well.
Possibly the most prominent instance of such is Estonia’s e-Residency program that uses blockchain solution by BitNation to register anyone in the world as an e-resident of Estonia. This allows foreigners to create and run a legal business in Estonia, pay taxes, and even securely sign e-documents while actually being thousands of miles away. Estonia is also one of the handful of countries to officially recognize cryptocurrency as a completely legitimate means of payment.
There are, of course, lots of other industries that use blockchain-based solutions, from online casinos to eSports platforms, and from healthcare to gaming. Still, even though the technology has existed for ten years now, it’s still pretty nascent and is yet to demonstrate its full capabilities. The next decade might be the time when it finally blossoms, and with that, the entire world as we know it may change forever.