Sep 26, 2018 By Katherine Flores
Everybody’s buzzing about blockchain technology. That’s because it’s a way of building trust into a system. In fact, when you put blockchain together with another buzzword “infrastructure” you’ve got the golden goose of tomorrow.
That’s what’s cool about blockchain. It’s not a disruptor. It’s a builder. In other words, blockchain’s not about striking down existing businesses with lower prices or other attack strategies. Blockchain is foundational. It can build better systems for business.[i]
So, how does this play out in the brick and mortar business world?
Property Profit One of the potential benefits blockchain enables is a new brand of independence. In some cases, it can even help you make a little money from your property. For example, the startup Slock.it embeds smart contracts to connect your cars, homes, and other devices to your special blockchain account. This enables you to rent, sell, or share the connected property without a middleman. For instance, you could rent out an office space and even use Slock.it to automatically open and unlock the door once the lease is paid.[ii]
Music The internet altered the music industry, most of all for the musicians themselves. In an effort to revitalize the industry for artists, one such musician, Imogen Heap, created the blockchain-based business Mycelia. This company helps all of us hear great music and ensures profits go straight to the musicians. It works with a protective system of smart contracts that manage and track the rights for each digital music file. That way copyrighted materials can be sold directly to consumers with the royalties paid at the purchase point. This means there’s no need for record labels, lawyers or accountants in the process. Thanks to blockchain, there’s now a system to help bring the music industry back to the artists. [iii]
Luxury Goods Spending big bucks? Then authentication and fraud detection are especially crucial. You want to ensure goods are real as well as legit most of all when they’re costly. Take Everledger, a blockchain-based fraud-detection system for jewelry and diamonds. Their tech uses a hybrid blockchain to combat the sale of conflict diamonds. They create a transaction history for each gem. Everledger does this by combining the Bitcoin blockchain with their own private version. Specifically, they build smart contracts to certify the physical diamonds. Specifically, Everledger takes a scan of each gem, like a unique diamond fingerprint, this is then measured against the blockchain visual record to verify it's the same one."[iv]
Cool. But how’s blockchain relevant in the online world for non-techies like me?
Enigma: The MIT Media Lab created the company Enigma as a stealth startup to pull privacy out of the past and make it a part of real life again. Enigma combines blockchain's privacy and security advantages into a decentralized cloud platform to guarantee privacy. They do this with encrypted and protected data. That means even when you share your info with others it’s still shielded from outside interference. Thus, thanks to Enigma, you can store share and even analyze data without ever revealing it to any party. That’s a trusty shield alright!
Medical Records Another exciting business project to come out of MIT created a blockchain that provides a digital family history of medical records. During a doctor or clinical visit you’re typically asked about family medical history. This may not be top of mind, especially if you’re in the emergency room bleeding out at the time. But with MIT’s creation, the MedRec blockchain, families and medical providers can create a shared medical history to pass from generation to generation. Not only does this ease the burden of your memory for medical visits, it may also protect against mistakes on your charts and eventual diagnosis.[v]
Voting There’s a lot of talk about digital democracy and the notion of voting on a blockchain is complicated. But startups including Follow My Vote and Settlemint are hard at work already on that task. They have created a system centered around blockchain-based tokens. These protected signatures can serve as votes to be dropped in digital wallets for each candidate. That means there would be a literal chain of verification for each vote. Then you would know for certain your election vote would be protected and, most importantly, counted.[vi]
These examples are just a tiny sampling of the potential for blockchain to help shape a whole new world of businesses. Best part is evident these companies solve problems and lay foundations to help make our lives better. Not only that, these improvements address of-the-moment concerns like privacy, protection, and personal profit. Thanks to blockchain we can stay safe and maybe even get a little richer.
[vi] https://followmyvote.com/online-voting-technology/blockchain-technology/, https://settlemint.com