When most people hear the term Blockchain, they think of Bitcoin. Most of the major cryptocurrencies run on Blockchain technology, so recently, the term has become a buzzword in mainstream media.
But what exactly IS Blockchain and how does it impact the world?
Investopedia defines Blockchain as “a digitized, decentralized, public ledger of all cryptocurrency transactions.”
In layman’s terms, it’s simply a public record of encrypted financial transactions connected to each other, but not connected to any central bank.
Each new transaction is called a block. A chain of blocks (i.e., the transaction history) is displayed in descending chronological order. Once a transaction is completed, neither the block nor the chain can be changed. Every computer connected to a specific Blockchain sees the same information.
So far, Blockchain has had an enormous impact in the Financial Services industry, specifically in banking, investments, and Fintech startups.
Let’s take a look at some other technologies that use or are based on Blockchain.
Every election year in the US, claims of fraudulent votes occupy news headlines. One company is aiming to change this with Blockchain.
Follow My Vote is building an online voting platform with secure Blockchain-based technology. Current voting systems are generally monitored by a single organization with full access to the system, making the system more vulnerable to hacking. With Follow My Vote’s platform, once a vote is entered on the system, it cannot be changed. This is because the very nature of Blockchain technology includes a public record of each entry block, which locks after each transaction goes through. The blocks can be viewed by anyone connected to the network.
2. Space Exploration
What if people could work together to develop a non-governmental, publicly available space program?
This is the thinking behind Space Cooperative’s initiative. The company’s goal is to bring together the brightest minds in engineering, aeronautics, and science, creating a community of space exploration enthusiasts. Smart contracts, operating on the Blockchain, are used for fundraising efforts, ensuring that agreements are completed properly, and under the specified terms for both parties.
3. Food Safety
A lot can happen on the way from farm to table. How can grocery stores know the exact point of liability during a food scare?
Walmart is working together with IBM to answer this question. The retail giant is using Blockchain technology to bring together multiple sources of data into one centralized system. This gives the company, its growers, and distributors access to detailed information on food products so in the event of a product recall, within minutes Walmart will be able to detect the source of the problem.
One of the biggest problems in healthcare is inefficiency in claims. Patients misplace claim forms, and insurance companies contend that they never received them, resulting in frustration and delays.
Gem solves these challenges with their platform, built on the Ethereum Blockchain. The system gives access to a patient’s healthcare records to all relevant parties—physicians, providers, and of course, the patients themselves—ensuring that real-time data is secure, fast, and accurate.
People tend to assume that musicians enjoy high earnings from their music, but this is far from the truth. Money from royalties is split between labels, managers, video production companies, advertising agencies, lawyers, and of course, the artists themselves. They take a small cut of revenue from digital music sold on platforms like iTunes and Spotify, but it’s often minimal.
Blockchain technology could change this. UjoMusic has a platform allowing artists to publish and license their music on an Ethereum-based Blockchain. It cuts out the middleman, giving them control over distribution with a simple platform. Ujo lets fans buy music directly from the artist via a transparent payment system.
As we can see, Blockchain has far surpassed its original cryptocurrency use and will likely expand into more markets in the future.
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