Cryptocurrencies are changing the way people buy or sell anonymously. But they are plagued by hype, regulatory issues and possible abuse. As a result of so much buzz around the term, many think cryptocurrency and blockchain are same things. That is not true; Cryptocurrencies is just one of the many blockchain applications. Blockchain is the technology that enables cryptocurrencies but it potentially has very wide spectrum of applications. It can solve many problems which involve trust. In this article we explore blockchain real world applications which are already in-use and serving.
A university awards a degree to a student and stores it in a blockchain. Student also gets paper degree which bears a special identification number. A potential employer uses this number to authenticate the degree. Employer matches paper degree against the one stored in the blockchain. Participants in this blockchain can be other universities, government regulators or agencies. MIT Digital Certificates Project is an open-source project that registers digital certificates on the Bitcoin blockchain. Certificates are cryptographically signed, and tamper proof.
Stakeholders in a purchase are buyer (consumer), seller, intermediary, regulator and the courier company. All of these stakeholders come together and share data using a blockchain making each step in the transaction more transparent and secure. It can help assuring quality of goods, safer payments, privacy of consumer, guaranteed deliveries, etc. IBM is working with many organizations including Walmart to create blockchain based solutions to guarantee food safety to consumers.
A legal contract is a physical document which is often notarized. On the other handm, a smart contract is a blockchain based application which can execute a piece of code when certain condition is met. If smart contracts replace physical documents, it will eliminate the need of a lawyer in drafting it. OpenLaw allows users to create smart contracts using an easy to use standard markup language.
Politicians in democracies such as India and the USA have been manipulating the voting systems. A blockchain based voting system can verify voter identities and integrity of voting data while still maintaining voter anonymity. Ploys Voting App provides an online voting tool on top of an immutable blockhain which is easy to use and transparent. They claim to make elections easy to organize and time saving.
Startups need funding, thousands of promising ideas die in search of potential investors. Initial Coin Offering (ICO) is blockchain equivalent of Initial Public Offering (IPO) using which startups can raise funds directly from the public by pitching their ideas to them using some platform.
iComplyICO provides solutions to ease the task of issuing ICOs by allowing startups to monitor compliance with regulators during secondary trading of ICOs and to keep bad actors out.
Blockchain solutions can eliminate clearing houses thereby reducing cost of money transfers. At the same time distributed ledger also offers better security of data. Quorum is a division of JPMorgan which provides high speed and high throughput transactions between known participants. In reality, this dedicated division is a pioneering effort by the bank to bring distributed ledger technology to mainstream banking. Blockchain is still an emerging landscape and its technology stack is still building therefore people are cautious to adapt it. But undoubtedly there are enormous blockchain applications in vivid areas where it will cause major disruption.