By Natalie Lord
In recent years much has been said about the transformative power of blockchain – the distributed, encrypted ledger technology that powers Bitcoin. These are some of the key facts you should know about blockchain technology:
- Blockchain is widely considered to be the tool that will transform a number of industries because it’s based on a trust system.
- Blockchains can be public or private. Anyone with access to a blockchain can view the entire chain and all participants can see any changes made to the ledger. The ledger is continuously updated and each participant has their own copy of it.
- Blockchain could save banks billions of dollars. American Express is using a technology created by a company called Ripple, which enables some of its transactions to be processed using blockchain. It makes international transactions instantaneous rather than the process taking several days. If this technology becomes widely utilized banks could save more than $8 billion a year, according to Accenture.
- Blockchain is already improving scientific research. According to a recent blog from “Scientific American,” about 2.5 million scientific studies are published every year, leaving researchers struggling to authenticate the results. But blockchain makes sharing, authenticating and certifying information easier and faster, whilst also rendering it almost impossible to alter the data.
- The adoption of blockchain could revolutionize the global shipping industry. The logistics of companies using dozens of shipping lanes to transport goods around the world is a complex matter. Blockchain can simplify this process to take just minutes instead of days to complete. Blockchain technology could be the catalyst behind the biggest transformation in the industry since the standardization of container sizes in the 1960s. The upside for the consumer would be that with companies saving time and money in the organizational sphere, the cost of goods sold around the world would decline.
- Blockchain could facilitate food recalls. Walmart has started using blockchain technology to track where some products come from, so it can determine where bad food originated from in a situation where it’s recalling produce. It’s currently working with IBM to track food. In one test scenario, Walmart was able to determine where some bad produce came from in two seconds as opposed to the results coming through in almost a week using their current system. As well as working with Walmart, IBM is also collaborating with grocers like Kroger to implement blockchain technology in their food supply chains. IBM also has contracts to work with seven major banks on their blockchains.
- Blockchain could revolutionize medical record keeping. At the moment, your medical records can be difficult to access because they are held with various Doctor’s offices and hospitals. But some companies, like Proof Work, are looking to blockchain to create a system where patients can access their own medical records without having to contact their Doctor’s office.
- Blockchain can be used to manage power usage by electric companies. Further, it can modernize how electricity consumers share information on usage with their utility providers by securely sending their monthly consumption to a decentralized ledger. In one instance, some residents of New York used blockchain technology to set up their own “microgrids” using solar panels to generate their own electricity which they then sold to other neighbours. One fact is certain, a future with blockchain is sure to be a bright one.