It's been a decade now since the "Blockchain" word has been introduced to the world. Those days, Blockchain - which is distributed ledger technology for non-financial and financial transactions, seemed like an enigmatic concept that only technologists could understand. However, uptake of this disruptive technology in the last few years has helped several major tech companies to see the hidden potential lies within it.
The blockchain is expected to disrupt many industries in the coming five to ten years. In this blog, I am going to draw your attention to top 10 industry verticals likely to get disrupted by the Blockchain world.
Payments and Banking: Blockchain technology can be used to provide banking and payment related services to billions of people across the world.
Most of the people see blockchain as not just a technology but a paradigm shift in the financial industry similar to what internet did to media. The technology will also provide access to financial services to those countries that do not have access to traditional banking.
A technology like Bitcoin allows anyone to send money across borders almost instantly at very low cost. Abra is a startup that is presently working on Bitcoin based remittance services and several banks like Barclays are also planning to adopt blockchain technologies to make their business operations faster, secure and efficient.
This can be seen as the rising investment by banks in blockchain projects and startups. According to IBM, about 15% of banks will be using blockchain technology by the end of 2017.
Cyber security: Although the blockchain technology ledger is public, the data is encrypted and verified using advanced cryptography. This data is less likely to get hacked or changed without authorization. The blockchain eliminates the need of middlemen thereby making it faster and efficient than other traditional legacy systems.
Supply Chain Management: With the help of blockchain technology, it has now become possible to save all your transactions in a permanent decentralized record and monitor them transparently and securely which in turn helps to minimize manual errors and time delays.
This really makes sense in supply chain management when the respective company has to track down all the labor cost and even waste in emissions at every single point.
The blockchain can also be used to verify the authenticity or fair trade status of products by tracking them from their origin. Some blockchain startups like Provenance, Fluent, SKU Chain and Block Verify are working actively in this sector.
Forecasting: Blockchain is set to change the entire approach to research, consulting, analysis and forecasting.
Online platforms like Augur are aimed at creating worldwide decentralized prediction markets, which can be used to monitor bets on anything ranging from stocks and sports to elections in a decentralized way.
Networking and Internet of Things (IoT): Companies like IBM and Samsung are using blockchain technology for new concepts called "ADEPT" using Ethereum protocol, which will create a centralized network of IoT Application operating like a public ledger for a large number of devices.
Blockchain would eliminate the need for a central location to monitor communications between them. The devices would be able to communicate with each other directly to update software, manage bugs and monitor energy usage. The IoT devices operating in the blockchain are secure, private and anonymous by design.
Insurance: The global Insurance market is based on trust management. Blockchain is a new way of building and managing trust and can be used to validate many types of data in Insurance contracts like the insured-person's identity.
So called Oracle can be used to integrate real world data with blockchain smart contracts. This technology is very helpful for any type of insurance that deals with real world data such as crop insurance.
To address such challenges, Aeternity blockchain project is one such project which deals with building tools that are useful in the insurance industry.
Private Transport and Ride Sharing: Blockchain can be used to create decentralized versions of peer-to-peer rise sharing apps thereby allowing both users and car owners to carry out the terms and conditions in a secure way without the involvement of third party providers.
Startups working in this area include La'Zooz and Arcade City. Use of built-in E-wallet can allow car owners to automatically pay for parking, tolls and fuel. UBS, ZF and Innogy are some of the startups that are developing blockchain based E-wallet.
Online Data Storage: Data stored on a centralized server is inherently vulnerable to data loss, hacking or human error. Using blockchain technology, the cloud storage becomes more robust and secure against attack.
For instance, STORJ.IO is one such example of using cloud migration services for cloud storage using blockchain technology which provides decentralized cloud storage.
Charity: Common complains in the charity space include corruption and inefficiency which prevent money from reaching to the right person. With the help of blockchain technology, you can be left assured that your money is going to end up in the right hands.
Bitcoin based charities like BitGive Foundations use blockchain secure and transparent distributed ledger to let donors see that the intended party has received the funds.
Retail: Last but not the least, a decentralized blockchain based retail, utilities connect buyers and sellers directly without a middleman or any third party and their associated fees, sorry to all the Ecommerce companies out there.
In these cases, the trust comes from smart contract systems and built-in reputation management systems. Two startups disrupting the retail space are OpenBazaar and OB1.
Well, the list doesn't end here ....there are many other sectors that are currently disrupting the blockchain technology such as healthcare, government, real estate, public benefits, voting, energy management, and online music among others.
Conclusion: Certainly, blockchain is one of the most promising technologies in the near future. It is a distributed ledger technology that underlies cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and provides a way to record and transfer data that is secure, transparent and auditable.
One of the most important factor which can act as a hindrance to the technology adoption could be a lack of regulatory environment which would help countries feel more comfortable about its application. Recently, Japan has formed a legislation that would regulate bitcoin in their country.
In the meantime, things are likely to change as more countries are presently conducting research about the use of blockchain and bitcoin. Nevertheless, the signs are positive for now and the technology is expected to disrupt many more industries, in the next four to five years.