The words blockchain and cryptocurrency have become deeply linked in the last few years, but blockchain has various uses outside of cryptocurrency. Blockchain has demonstrable applications in healthcare, government, retail and raw material industries.
What is Blockchain?
Blockchain is, at its core, a way of safely storing information online. Data in the blockchain is created and then stored in ‘blocks.’ Once you fill a block, it is linked to the previous block, creating a chain.
The data in a blockchain is shared with a group of computers worldwide. These computers verify the legitimacy of the data (usually a cryptocurrency transaction) and then record it. Because of the verification process and the decentralization of data, the blockchain is incredibly secure.
Other Applications of Blockchain
Because blockchain is primarily a secure data storage method, it has many uses outside of cryptocurrencies. Blockchain has been reshaping industries like healthcare, government, retail, and many more industries in the last few years.
Information about patient health and health tracking apps can benefit patients and providers alike. Storing data safely and securely is a huge undertaking and one that blockchain can help with.
Use Case: A platform for sharing patient information in a secure way
Solution: Patientory is a company revolutionizing how patient information is handled and shared. Their platform will allow users and providers to share data about care in a centralized location instead of on providers’ discrete, individual platforms. Every piece of data they hold is stored in the blockchain.
Use Case: A platform to securely share healthcare and scheduling information with caregivers
Solution: Wholecare is similar to Patientory in that it securely stores patient information in a blockchain application. The difference is that WholeCare focuses on sharing all pertinent information with caregivers who need extra support.
Synaptic Health Alliance
Use Case: A place for various insurance companies and providers to safely share patient information
Solution: In a 2018 pilot program, Synaptic Health Alliance has unified Aetna, Humana, Multiplan, UnitedHealth Group, and Quest Diagnostics into a secure, centralized platform. They aim to tackle the rising costs of healthcare data and storage by creating a simplified, secure place for all information to be stored and accessed by those who need it.
Along with other blockchain applications, the secure data storage method has found its way into government at every level. Blockchain technology applications might include security in voting, information storage, and gun tracking.
Follow My Vote
Use Case: A secure system for remote voting
Solution: Follow My Vote has created an open source program that will allow everyone to vote from their phones without ever having to show up in person. This system could drastically increase voter participation while saving costs and resources.
Illinois Blockchain Initiative
Use Case: Storage of private information for governmental purposes
Solution: The state of Illinois has begun researching blockchain to better secure documents like birth certificates, voter registration, and social security. They hope to create a stronger trust between the government and citizens regarding privacy and data security.
Use Case: Connecting the gap between physical and digital gun tracking
Solution: Most state governments are in charge of tracking gun ownership, but new serial numbers and ownership tracking in a centralized blockchain-secured platform could reshape gun monitoring. Digital gun safes have been proposed to store gun ownership information to make communities safer.
Wisekey hopes to adapt blockchain technology to create more cohesive gun tracking.
Retail and Sales
Blockchain could revolutionize the way that consumers interface with brands. Blockchain application development has created new transparency, traceability, and safety tools.
Aura Blockchain Consortium
Use Case: Verification of luxury secondhand retail products
Solution: Aura Blockchain Consortium is the brainchild of LVMH, Mercedes-Benz, OTB, PRADA Group, and Richmont. They have created a blockchain solution that allows consumers to verify their luxury goods. Since their founding, they have partnered with Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Prada, and many others.
Use Case: A platform that tracks agricultural supply chains
Solution: Agrichain aims to create a central platform that will make food supply chains far more transparent and traceable. They eliminate the need for paperwork while improving productivity and visibility. While this tracing is helpful for supply chain management systems, it also has the added benefit of creating more cohesive tracing for potential food safety issues.
Raw Materials Industry
Raw materials have been a vast and vital industry for hundreds of years, but even they have found uses for blockchain. In this industry, blockchain uses include transparent and reliable raw material tracing and much more.
WWF Pilot Project
Use Case: A blockchain program to track and trace tuna fish
Solution: Unethically sourced meat- especially fish- is an issue that has plagued conservationists for decades. It can be nearly impossible to ensure that everyone is following best practices for fishing on the open seas, but blockchain may make an impact on this industry.
The World Wildlife Foundation has created a pilot project to track and trace tuna for consumers. In practice, customers should be able to scan a small chip in their fish to ensure that fishermen safely catch the tuna without any slave labor, illegal fishing practices, or unsafe conditions.
Use Case: A tamper-proof source of information about diamonds’ origins and history
Solution: Tracr has developed a blockchain program to monitor where diamonds come from. This will ensure both transparency for consumers and safety for miners. The blockchain should help ensure that retailers and consumers alike only find and buy ethically sourced, slavery-free diamonds.
The blockchain has been revolutionary for many industries, not just cryptocurrency. As applications of blockchain technology continue to develop, more companies and startups are turning to this unique and reliable method of data storage to transform their industries.