Since the advent of civilizations, trust has been the driving force of every interaction, and the invention of currency paved the way to manage this and enabled organized finance. But probably the greatest revolution in this field since the Romans introduced banking is Blockchain – a technology that automates trust.
Initially started as an alternative currency, Blockchain soon proved that it’s much more than that, an ecosystem that supports all sorts of human and machine interactions and transactions, being a distributive network-based technology, it makes trust a collective term, and responsibility an objective value.
Today, Blockchain is not just a buzzword or a coin token, but a practical feature of many mainstream industries, ranging from economics, legal contracts, healthcare, anti-counterfeiting, art and media, video games, and many more.
So let’s dwell a little deeper into blockchain uses and how our current world is affected by it.
Blockchain Applications in Financial Services
Evolution of currency from the Barter system of the Bronze age, metal coins of the Iron Age, and paper currency of the pre-modern era, we moved to Digital transactions. Then in 2009, A whitepaper was published, which in upcoming years changed the perspective of the general populace on the currency. It was this whitepaper that later emerged as Bitcoin, the first cryptocurrency, and marked the beginning of the era of Blockchain. Since then, there have been numerous applications of blockchain for businesses and finance implemented all across the globe.
Cryptocurrency exchanges (Trading)
Cryptocurrencies, often abbreviated as Crypto, are digital tokens, a digital representation of these tokens and an ownership identification is needed, this was solved by the use of virtual accounts called Wallets, analogous to a bank account, and just like in a traditional pocket wallet one pushes banknotes, here, one can convert fiat money to cryptocurrency and push it into a crypto-wallet, and this conversion is managed by a Crypto-Exchange.
Similar to how we have a plethora of banks, with numerous ways of banking, we have a wide array of such Cryptocurrency exchanges, and a gazillion ways to trade with this money, all backed by the trust of Decentralized Blockchain.
Some of the most common Cryptocurrency exchanges are – Binance, Coinbase, Kraken, Bithumb.
Such exchanges allow common users to switch and experiment with Blockchain, provide many more features above simple coin ownership, this includes – User-friendly interfaces, reliability, lower risk factors, and extend the functionality of Blockchain.
There are even Decentralized exchanges (DEX) that use blockchain for its proper functioning, this further adds a feature of better privacy and security.
Money laundering protection
Cryptocurrencies transactions being completely anonymous are often linked with ungoverned and possibly illegal money movements, and declaring it to be a false claim would be a complete lie. But just like how diamonds cut diamonds, the best tool for detecting and preventing dirty money to enter finance is also Blockchain. Blockchain for businesses can solve this problem by automating/hardcoding the ue-case of a certain allotment of an asset.
Anonymity in Cryptocurrency is not an invisibility cloak, Blockchain being practically unhackable makes it immutable, a perfect unalterable record, that can never be erased, thus every transaction can be verified, and traced with complete trust, a trust which even conventional banking systems cannot fathom.
Blockchain transactions are stone-etched, with rigid identification and uniqueness, thus completely removing any possibility of ambiguity and loopholes once such a detection is made, and can be quickly and easily legally confirmed.
Such an Anti-Money Laundering technology based on Blockchain can detect and confirm any “dirty” money movement and can help monitor any form of such immoral acts using CryptoCurrency.
Blockchain provides a seamless coordination system, and any system which demands a smooth coupling between multiple agents can be implemented using this technology, and that too with improvement beyond traditional methodologies.
Insurance is one such business, which foresees an ever-increasing use of Blockchain-based applications.
- Verification and Risk Mitigation – Insurance claims are sensitive matters and often involve legal entities, fake claims cost up to 40 billion dollars each year, and bottlenecks flow of the economy, Blockchain offering permanent ledger records and granular cooperation among insurers and their customers, thus helps in verifying suspicious transactions and mitigate fake claims.
- Property Insurance – Anything can be a property, from real estate to a car, or even an original piece of art, this increasing heterogeneity makes defining and valuing more and more complex, but blockchain offers something called Smart Contracts. Smart Contracts are equivalent to any paper contract but are much easier to manage, maintain, and process, making insurance claims automated and much more trustworthy.
- Reinsurance – Reinsurance in simple terms means insurance for insurance companies, useful especially in situations of some nation or global level catastrophe as we all witnessed in the form of COVID-19, and this being a transaction between two business entities requires a lot of legal paperwork and other overheads, Blockchain, and smart contracts are so efficient in performing the same task, that the issue can be made non-existent.
P2P & Cross-border transaction
Any sort of international transaction involves a great number of overheads, both financial and temporal, thus a verifiable, intangible, and quick way of such transfer of money, securities, and various sorts of funds, can bring the world much closer and prevent the need for questionable modes of such transactions.
Blockchain for businesses is such a solution, and probably the best one currently present. It’s the only candidate that can serve as the implementation of a truly global currency.
Crypto-Currencies and Smart Contracts, a combination of these two technologies has already made it true, and now even governments worldwide are slowly recognizing the authenticity of Cryptocurrency and its growth potential.
Paying a seller on the other end of the globe is now as easy as paying your neighbor next door. A huge number of Cryptocurrencies have flooded the market and the transaction is completely anonymous and private, Point-to-Point, some of the most popular ones are – Bitcoin, Etherum, Steller, Cardano, Uniswap, Dogecoin, etc.
Crowdfunding is one of the miracles of the Internet along with Blockchain because it enables a democratic way to raise funds, run charities, and get donations. Crowdfunding has been successful in powering many startups, helping underprivileged people, and making the world more human.
But, most crowdfunding sources are centralized, which turns this into a business. While this approach has its own merits and demerits, Blockchain offers quite a different prospect to look at this problem.
There are majorly 2 ways Blockchain and specifically, Cryptocurrency can be used for crowdfunding.
- A simple upgrade over the current approach is to simply switch from classical currencies to Cryptocurrency for getting the funds, it’s simple, it’s point-to-point and it automatically removes the need for centralization except for marketing.
- Another slight radical approach, but being proven successful now a couple of times is using ICO for fundraising, ICO stands for Initial Coin Offering and is a parallel of Public offering in terms of shares, in very simple terms – an organization or even an individual can host it’s own CryptoCurrency and provide an Initial Coin Offering, and interested parties can directly invest in the coin, providing a completely independent way of crowdfunding.
Borrowing + Lending services
CryptoCurrencies encourage fluidity in an economy by enabling transactions as freely as legally possible. A conventional fluid market is backed up by securities and actual physical entities like real estate, and these come into playfield through loans and mortgages.
But a market that involves Cryptocurrencies has something more to offer, with the possibility of immutable ledger records and flexible transactions there are essentially two additions.
- Smart Contracts for Securities – Security trading becomes much smoother, even international trade of securities can be made true.
- Digital assets – Blockchain makes Digital assets possible since now even a piece of digital art is as “real” as a physical painting. An innovative approach popularized in recent days is Non Fungible Tokens or NFTs these are Digital assets completely backed up by Blockchain for authenticity and can be traded just like physical entities in a marketplace
With the involvement of both these methods, a completely digital economy running on Cryptocurrency, backed by cryptic digital assets, and that as well supports the classical ways and is capable of incorporating a diversity of resources and funds is what Blockchain is capable of creating.
Blockchain applications in Healthcare
The year 2020 Marked the beginning of an era of revelation, a revelation about how important health is, and how much our seems-to-be-perfect society is lagging, but it also lit up the path to incorporate an alternative lifestyle that can be much better.
While technology has changed our lifestyle drastically, it also has the potential to improve it and in this interconnected world, apart from obvious things discussed before like insurances, the medical industry, as well as individuals both, can take advantage of various contributions of blockchain and smart contracts.
Secure Medical records
Every individual has a unique body, a running breathing chemistry lab, and has a unique medical history ranging from genes, allergies, anatomical features to chronic diseases and exposure to other external factors.
But this information being so important also makes it a huge privacy risk, because it can be used against a group or individual very easily. Medical records are often used by scammers to target gullible selves, for marketing purposes and even personal harm.
If the medical history gets stored in a decentralized and secure manner, such as a Blockchain ledger – it can provide a very easy and flexible way for patients and medical workers to keep track, update and utilize this information to improve the life of a patient. Even simple things such as Blood groups or possible allergies are very important information, which we cannot leave vulnerable.
In cases of emergency, due information about medical history can be life-saving. Like if information regarding someone’s blood group is readily available, in case of an accident, the blood transfusion can be started instantly.
Blockchain offers a simple way to implement this. Each medical test, every visit to the hospital, and every piece of information can be uploaded to a secure, immutable blockchain, which can thus provide a securely updatable way to verify this information anytime anywhere.
Fake Medicine detection
Fake and Adulterated Pharmaceuticals, substandard medical equipment, and production of low-quality raw materials, all these activities are not only illegal but also immoral and inhumane. And unfortunately, this still is a lingering truth.
Blockchain with its trust factor and flexibility can be used to tackle this.
A recent approach to this is being slowly implemented by various industries – A simple unique identification for each product or object can be used to view, verify and confirm the qualitative and quantitative parameters of the product provided, such as a QR code.
Companies can upload all the relevant information on a blockchain ledger, a data structure designed to store temporal but rigid information, and a simple scan of the QR code provided with the product can help one get this information readily.
BlockVerify is one such tool – it’s an anti-counterfeit tool that can be used with any sort of supply chain, at any level of the supply chain, vendors, and consumers everyone can use it.
The medical industry is one of the most vulnerable sectors to fake products and dirty tactics, and with huge requirements in recent times has been quickly trying to adopt such a model, while BlockVerify is a general-purpose tool, its use in medicine can be a strong strike to break stereotypes and increase trust within the industry.
Blockchain uses for Government
Efficient governments are designed to provide smoother work and life environments and accommodate diversity, rather than hindering performance and homogenizing the society. Governments run on trust, trust on the one running the institutions, trust among the real participants, and on the people of a jurisdiction. And the best solution for ensuring trust is blockchain. Blockchain maintains the legitimacy and authenticity of information and can be used to back everything ranging from money to policies and legal matters.
Blockchain can simplify governance and bring society closer.
Voting is a process that requires huge amounts of resources, manpower, and time. An election is a costly periodic task that includes so many factors associated with risk at a scale that is unimaginable for any other system.
But it is the fuel of Democracy, it drives a country and directs those in power.
An alternative approach that is not only fast and resource-efficient but can be proved secure and fail-safe is not an improvement but a need of the hour. Blockchain has been viewed ever since its inauguration in the form of Bitcoin as the perfect choice for this.
Each vote is a transaction, thus it’s easy to implement and scale using Blockchain, or as some have suggested direct use of current Cryptocurrency chains for the same like Etherium.
It prevents the possibility of fraud, fake votes provide ease of access, and voting from the comfort of home is also made possible.
Uniquely identifying individuals is an important task for governance, for safety and security of the public, and running welfare schemes as well, but it carries a privacy and security risk at a scale no other application has. Since its effects can encompass populations of a whole country.
Centralized servers, even with the best securities cannot be considered invulnerable
But a blockchain spanning the population of a whole country can be secure enough to solve this issue, this is because it’s decentralized, encrypted, and can only be hacked if resources equivalent to at least 51% of the included systems are used, which is not possible at anything in millions.
Blockchain can put a globally unique identifier to each individual, and this information can be stored on its immutable ledger, individual identity and all sorts of associations can be implemented in a blockchain-based application, which can be used by the government for implementing its schemes, without having the user compromise its privacy.
Digital Will and Inheritance
Legal issues related to inheritance and will are some of the most common problems caused mainly due to ambiguity in information. This ambiguity could arise due to various involved sources of information and no way to verify authenticity unless rigorous legal consultancy is performed. And the core of this problem is because individual identification and assignment of ownership is a difficult process.
Blockchain solves both problems of individual identification and ownership that pertains to inheritance and will. Immutable ledger makes sure the possibility of information mismatch and ambiguity is reduced, also not just allows to store data related to will which can be legally verified, it can also be implemented to automate the whole process without the need of much intervention. Hence saving time on the court as well.
Transparent blockchain-based budgeting
Budgeting is a big deal for every government because it reduces resource wastage and promotes the right investments. Take, for example, the New York City Council. The mayor has given a budget of $89 billion and the city council has requested a thorough investigation into the request.
Needless to say, the mayor was unable to provide suitable land and there was plenty of space. This is not a completely new scene. In addition to this, every year, governments lose money due to corruption and poor management. Moreover, it becomes too late for people to realize where their taxes are going. And so when there is a lot of waste in the government, blockchain for such systems can shine in this case. Blockchain for government use cases will provide transparent budgeting where citizens can see where their money is going.
The budget designing process itself can be benefited from blockchain as well, since prevention of policies from external factors to prevent any sort of biases is required in this process, and blockchain has the potential to provide such a service.
Furthermore, it will also increase overall efficiency and, not to mention, reduce waste and corruption. Before accepting any budget request, authorities can know exactly when and where they plan to spend the money.
Registry of land ownership
Another major blockchain initiative is the digitization of the real estate sector that can simplify the sale of land. The advent of smart contracts in blockchain platforms now allows assets like real estate to be tokenized and traded like cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and ether.
Legal advisors, investors, lawyers, agents, and customers, everyone has a say in this ecosystem of real estate. However, according to a report from Deloitte, blockchains could soon usher in a shift in their role and involvement in real estate transactions.
New platforms could eventually take on functions such as listings, payments, and legal documents. By cutting out the middlemen, buyers and sellers get the most out of their money by saving on the commissions and fees charged by these middlemen. It also makes the process much faster because the back and forth between these intermediaries are cut down.
One of the prime examples of blockchain uses in this domain includes the case of the Dubai Land Registry. They’ve implemented blockchain into their infrastructure and their government will soon transform the way people buy and sell real estate.
Traceability: Blockchain-based tracking in Supply Chains
NFC-enabled tagging solutions are used in different products. Through a simple tap on the product label through a smartphone, you can read about products traceability, exclusive content, videos, stories, tasting notes, origin, and personalized messages. Today, consumers are increasingly concerned about where the product they purchase comes from. The conscious consumer expects brands to be more transparent and products to be sourced ethically and sustainably.
An immutable ledger of transactions throughout companies’ supply chains, a blockchain solution, allows stakeholders to prove their claims of authenticity, legality, and sustainability. Other applications include digital platforms aimed at speeding the flow of data and goods and data in ocean transportation.
Agreements in the shipping sector are required aimed at connecting cargo owners, vessel operators, ports, and logistics companies through digital platforms that use blockchain technology. Blockchain allows trusted participants to share information as goods move through supply chains. The system promises to reduce the cost of administering shipped goods, cut down on paperwork and speed the flow of goods by letting companies transmit information quickly and reliably. The Electronic Bill of Ladings (eBLs) aims to replicate the essential functions of a paper Bill.
The International Group approved Global Share S.A. edoxOnline platform (“edoxOnline”) on 11 June 2019, WAVE on 23 December 2019, and CargoX Smart B/L™ (“CargoX”) on 11 February 2020. As with Bolero, essDOCS, and e-Title™, the legal frameworks for this new generation of eBL providers’ systems were scrutinized by the IG to ensure that eBLs created on them are capable of performing the three functions of a bill of lading, namely as a receipt, a document of title and a contract of carriage. Liabilities arising in respect of the carriage of cargo under eBLs created on these systems are now covered by the IG Clubs as if the bills of lading had been issued in traditional paper form.
The key difference with these second-generation eBL systems is their reliance on blockchain technology. Unlike three years ago, blockchain is today no longer just a buzzword but has many real applications.
A blockchain may be a public or a private digital network used for recording transactional events in encrypted form, storing the same in a distributed ledger (i.e. the computers). A private blockchain network can feature a level of centralization. Access is limited by a governing body to a number of participants only. Public blockchain networks however run on thousands of computers and do not have a ‘central administrator’. It is not possible to shut down, block or limit access to a public blockchain network. edoxOnline’s, Wave’s, and CargoX’s products are based on the Ethereum blockchain; the best known public blockchain which also enables the use of smart contracts. The publicly distributed ledger contains a permanent record of all transactions, providing transparency and enabling auditability of all events. Without a central registry, there is no central point of attack for hackers. edoxOnline is the first eBL system created implementing blockchain technology. The company was set up in 2007 by a group of international trade experts to provide the industry with a collaborative digital platform to streamline the issuance of shipping and commercial documents. On edoxOnline’s system, all the participants trade from shippers.
Blockchain has proved itself as a revolutionary technology in the last decade and established itself as the new driving force of the world of security, credibility, and trust. Blockchain-based applications often called DApps or Distributed Applications, are used in many industries and have successfully upgraded and improved many existing workflows.
The domain of its usability knows no bounds. Every major industry in every significant sector has benefited from this or is going through a phase of change to accept Blockchain as a part of the ecosystem.
And we’re proud to say that we, at ZirconTech, have helped such industries in setting up and utilizing this amazing technology.
One of the most recent examples is – Development of an E2E solution for automotive insurance based on using blockchain.
We all know, there is a high distrust in the insurance industry because of the existing conflict of interests. Since the companies’ profits increase if less is paid to the users, or it is possible to charge them more money. This solution allows transparency to the scoring calculation that defines the policy’s value for this particular case. We used Hyperledger Fabric as a Blockchain platform.
It is developed following these chain codes:- Information tracking (to track vehicle information and store it in the blockchain) and Scoring (calculation of scoring from data received from vehicles). As part of the project, the development of two APIs, three SPAs, and one mobile application had been done. And all the products were designed keeping both factors in mind, user-friendliness & functional completeness. Our aim was, and still is, to provide the best quality service to the customers and users possible.