Erlang

10 Unusual Blockchain Use Cases

by Erlang Solutions

Digital assets have increased in the last few years, and the FinTech industry is set to continue growing throughout 2019. Blockchain obviously falls into this category, with Bitcoin and Ethereum. Crypto startups and established companies are looking to develop their business strategies by incorporating FinTech. By allowing transparency on the ledger, this offers more secure online transactions, which are increasing at a rapid rate. But what unusual blockchain cases have been emerging, in this blog post we will explore some cases that caught our eye. It’s safe to say blockchain’s transparency and accountability is a huge factor and can lend itself to a number of industries in unusual and impressive ways. Here, we look through how:

1 Reducing Identity Theft

Forbes magazine states that 2.6 BILLION records were lost or stolen in 2017, and identified that theft accounts for 69% of all data breaches. Using blockchain to protect records offers a new level of security in the form of identification checks such as verifiable user IDs and multi-factor authentication. This means the need for countless passwords and usernames you’ll evitably end up forgetting is redundant. The Civic’s Secure Identity Platform (SIP) is the perfect example of this.

The entire blockchain is decentralised, meaning there is no point of weakness and therefore a very limited chance of hackers breaking in. This includes the self-sovereign IDs as mentioned and the removal of countless passwords and paperwork connected to accounts. The result is a single key that is matched to an immutable ledger. Your digital ID can include social security information, social media data, and medical records, but also all the private data you gather from online actions.

2 Buying virtual cats and gaming

Blockchain can be used in gaming in general by creating digital and analog gaming experiences. Cryptokitties emerged in 2017 and generated more than $1.3 million in approximately one month. By March 2018, it had raised $12 million. What’s the point? It utilises a game into an economy. By investing in CryptoKitties, players can invest, build and extend their gaming experience.

BitPainting is another example where you can create and share your digital art in the form of “crypto-collectables”. A third example is a gaming platform called Chimaera that converts gaming into virtual assets to allow developers to manage, share and trade their games.

3 Cannabis

Legal cannabis is a booming business in the United States with an estimated $9 billion dollars spent in 2017. This estimate is set to grow, no pun intended. With this amount of money, a cashless solution could offer business owners further security. Transactions are easily trackable and offer transparency and accountability that traditional banking doesn’t.

The link between cryptocurrencies and cannabis isn’t a new revelation; it has been used in the industry for a number of years. Cryptocurrencies have been created including PotCoin, DopeCoin, and ParagonCoin. However, none have fully reached their potential.

There are some key differences between why blockchain would be more appropriate for the cannabis trade than cryptocurrencies, and this is similar to traditional banking. Campaignlive sums it up perfectly here: “By integrating blockchain into supply chain management, business owners could provide legislators, consumers, and banks with the data they need to build what they need to gain mainstream acceptance: trust.”

Transparency is a key benefit to using blockchain within the cannabis industry. But what other advantages does it hold?

Blockchain offers anonymity. As legal cannabis is still a fairly new industry, stepping towards the edge of caution is sensible business acumen. Secondly, the tax put in place for legal marijuana in the US can be crippling to small businesses. The account fee for cannabis in California can be up to $60,000 per annum. Blockchain results in less tax because the individual will be taxed as property, not currency. Thirdly, many cannabis consumers aren’t aware of how cryptocurrencies work, offering further security.

It makes sense for traditional banking too. Along with various taxes to the individual businesses, the federal government has also put in place rules and regulations for banks. This places a risk on banks investing in the cannabis business, as a result, the California state treasurer John Chiang has proposed opening a public bank dedicated to the cannabis industry.

4 Sharing solar power

Siemens has partnered with startup LO3 Energy with an app called Brooklyn Microgrid. This allows residents of Brooklyn who own solar panels to transfer their energy to others that don’t have this capability. Consumers and solar panel owners are in control for the entire transaction.

5 Marriage

Same-sex marriage is still banned in 87% of all countries in the world, according to figures from campaignlive. Bearing that in mind, the Swedish sportswear brand Björn Borg have discovered an ingenious way for loved ones to be in holy matrimony, regardless of your sexual orientation, beliefs and the country you live in. But how?

Blockchain is stereotypically linked with money but take away those connotations and all you have is an effective ledger that can record events as well as transactions - no finance is necessarily required. It has the ability to record and preserve events without the need for a third party so Björn Borg has put this loophole to extremely good use by forming the digital platform Marriage Unblocked where you can propose, marry and exchange vows all on the blockchain. What’s more, the records can be kept anonymous offering security for those in potential danger. And of course, you can request a certificate to display proudly too!

The first couple to do this was David Mondrus and Joyce Bayo in 2014, by engraving their nuptials on the Bitcoin blockchain. The plus side of a blockchain marriage is the flexibility; libertarianism claims that when billionaire Brock Pierce wed his wife last year, they created a contract that could be “renewed, changed and dissolved annually”. Put simply, blockchain offers smart contracts.

Whilst this doesn’t hold any legal requirements, everything is produced and stored online. If religion or government isn’t a primary concern of yours, where’s the harm in a blockchain marriage? As Marriage Unblocked says, “no state or religion should control love”.

6 Simplifying the Internet of Things (IoT)

Blockchain offers ledgers that can record the huge amounts of data produced by IoT systems, and yep you can guess, it’s the transparency that offers the level of trust that other services cannot offer.

Internet of Things is one of the most exciting element to come out of technology; these connected ecosystems can record and share various interactions and blockchain lends itself perfectly to this. It can transfer data and gives identification for both public and private sector use cases. Blockchain can be used for the following:

  • Public sector; infrastructure management, taxes (and other municipal services).
  • Private sector; logistical upgrade, warehousing tracking, greater efficiency, and enhanced data capabilities.

There is even a blockchain specifically for IoT which handles machine-to-machine micropayments by the name of Tangle.

Tangle is the data structure behind micro-transaction crypto token that is purposely optimised and developed for IoT. It differs from other blockchains and cryptocurrencies by having a much lighter and efficient way to deal with ten of billions of devices. Created by David Sønstebø, Sergey Ivancheglo, Serguei Popov and Dominik Schiener, they included a decentralised peer-to-peer network that relies on a Distributed Acyclic Graph (DAG), which creates a distributed ledger rather than “blocks”. There are no transaction fees, no mining, and no external consensus process. This also secure data to be transferred between digital devices. Serguei Popov has provided a whitepaper on The Tangle if you’d like further information.

7 Improving Supply Chains

Blockchain provides real-time tracking that is essential for any companies with a significant number of supply chains. This is incredibly useful for the consumer industry and pharmaceutical industry. In fact, Forbes reports that Walmart partnered with IBM to produce a blockchain called Hyperledger Fabric blockchain to track foods from the supplier to the shop shelf. This allows for accountability and a clear process from the start of the business trail, right to the end. The whole supply chain is clear and allows multiple parties to access the same database whilst providing one truthful point of origin. You can find examples of this all over the web. We particularly enjoy this from origintrail.io.

8 Elections and Voter Fraud

Voting on a blockchain offers full transparency and therefore reduces the chance of fraudulent voting. One example of this is the app Sovereign which was created by nonprofit organisation Democracy Earth. This blockchain produces tokens that represent votes rather than money.

Another example is Sierra Leone which became the first country to run a blockchain-based election last year with 70% of the pollers using the technology to anonymously store votes in an immutable ledger. This offered instant access of the election results to the public.

These results were placed on the Agora’s blockchain and by allowing anyone to view, the government’s aim was to provide a level of trust with its citizens and offers a platform to reduce controversy as well as reducing costs enquired when using paper ballots. The result is a trustworthy and legitimate result that will also limit the amount of the hear’say from opposition voters and parties, especially in Sierra Leone that has had corruption claim in the past.

Leonardo Gammar created the Agora blockchain and raises a very good point about switching to blockchain for the next voting platform. With the online security threat, resulting in paper ballots continuing, blockchain again offers transparency from start to finish.

Whilst we still have a long way to go, the potential for using a blockchain voting platform is exciting.

9 Healthcare

With the emphasis on keeping many records in a secure manner, blockchain lends itself nicely to medical records and healthcare.

MedRec is one business using blockchain to keep secure files of medical records by using a decentralised CMS and smart contracts. This also allows transparency of data and the ability to make secure payments connected to your health.

Blockchain can also be used to track dental care in the same sort of way. One example is Dentacoin that uses the global token ERC20. It can be used for dental records but also to ensure dental tools and materials are sourced appropriately, whether tools are used on the correct patients, networks that can transfer information to each other quickly and a compliance tool.

10 Luxury items and art selling

With the ability to see everything that’s going on, and track the data and transactions within the blockchain, it lends itself nicely to luxury items such as diamonds and art.

Deals made on a blockchain reduces the chances of fraudulent behaviour. One business offering this is Everledger), as well as many other lines of business, that we mention in our post Blockchain Myth vs Reality. Everledger works by verifying provenance and limiting risks of fraud by certifying the assets (for example a piece of artwork) and then storing these records publicly. This offers transparency by displaying the verified ownership of the piece in question. Another example is Chronicled; a start-up blockchain-based technology for supply chain management to create a registry that tracks every item and places it in a single product line.

Whilst fraud is by no means impossible on a blockchain, it does reduce the risks. For example, if a hacker does by a small chance break into the blockchain, it will be impossible for them to resell an item without the blockchain network noticing.

It’s safe to say we’ve worked in the FinTech Industry for some while now. Whilst there is a buzz around blockchain, it’s important to note that the industry is well-established, and these surprising cases of blockchain display the broad and exciting nature of the industry as a whole. There are still other advantages to blockchain that we haven’t delved into in this article, such as decentralised apps, banking and the energy market. Perhaps this requires a follow up!

The most important element of a blockchain is its transparency, from displaying votes during an election and protecting an expensive painting. Blockchain is also secure, and can aid in new lines of businesses.

If you or your business are working on an unusual blockchain case, let us know - we would love to hear about it! Also if you are looking for reliable FinTech or blockchain experts, give us a shout, we offer many services to fix issues of scale!   

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