Clever implementations of blockchain technologies promise a radically fairer and more secure future. In Siraj Raval’s Book, Decentralized Applications, he describes the differences and key advantages to using blockchain-based, distributed systems. “Centralized networks,” Raval says, “are currently the most widespread model for software applications. Centralized systems directly control the operation of the individual units and flow of information from a single center. All individuals are directly dependent on the central power to send and receive information and to be commanded. Facebook, Amazon, Google, and every other mainstream service we use on the Internet uses this model.”
At a high level, blockchains are responsible for democratizing networks and creating distributed systems of power. “Distributed means computation is spread across multiple nodes instead of just one. Decentralized means no node is instructing any other node as to what to do.”
Decentralized networks are inherently more secure and more transparent than conventional data warehouses. Fledgling startups are already beginning to adopt this new model of development to support their ideas. These emerging decentralized applications, also called Dapps, leverage the core features of blockchain systems to fundamentally transform industries of all kinds.
Here are three uncommon industries that blockchain will impact over the next few decades:
- Public Healthcare
The healthcare industry makes up a massive percentage of the modern economy. Though critically important, the sector is extremely inefficient, divided amongst a host of misaligned intermediary parties.
IBM writes about how blockchain can optimize the healthcare supply chain by providing “better data sharing between healthcare providers. This means a higher probability of accurate diagnoses, more effective treatments, and the overall increased ability of healthcare organizations to deliver cost-effective care.” Further, they say how “blockchain technology can allow various stakeholders in the healthcare value-chain to share access to their networks without compromising data security and integrity, by allowing them to track data provenance as well as any changes made.”
These incremental improvements can have a dramatic effect on the industry, reducing enterprise costs and improving the end-consumer experience.
The oil industry, responsible for powering the world’s transportation services, still runs on legacy software that is in dire need of an update. Pen-and-paper, human-powered processes contribute to the industry’s stunning amount of annual waste. Thus, there is a large opportunity for platform-based technologies to improve the industry.
A deep dive on the OilPrice.com’s blog reveals the magnitude of this potential. “One of the biggest impacts that this technology [blockchain] will have on the oil industry is in how oil and oil futures are traded. Right now, oil being traded at such incredible volumes through producers, suppliers, contractors, subcontractors, refiners, and retailers, that attempting to keep up with the real-time movement of crude is often in vain.
With a scaled blockchain, transactions will happen instantaneously, allowing anyone and everyone to track the transactions – reducing costs, stabilizing prices, and providing a level of transparency which was previously impossible.”
Additionally, they go on to demonstrate how blockchains can be used to help companies abide by stringent regulation. “The oil and gas industry is heavily regulated and enforcers of the regulations may struggle to keep up, but using blockchain technology, all data is secured and easily accessible at any given time.
This is a plus for the regulators as it will help keep Big Oil in check, but it is also a huge leap forward for the industry. This form of data sharing brings a new level of communication and transparency into global collaborations from which complicated lawsuits and lengthy legal processes often emerge.”
Oil is just one natural resource that will be impacted by this new technology. For instance, PureGold, a highly-anticipated blockchain startup started by a team of serial professionals, have created the first payment gateway using gold-backed cryptocurrency.
In essence, their upcoming initial coin offering is empowering a new generation of consumers who will have access to a powerful suite of financial services. Furthermore, they are injecting liquidity and transparency into the gold-market, providing a level of transparency that this space has never seen before.
- Sustainability Efforts
Blockchains have the potential to greatly improve sustainability efforts happening around the globe. Specifically, there are interesting ways to employ blockchain systems to incentivize sustainable practices.
FutureThinkers writes about how we can design “a recycling program on the blockchain could encourage participation by giving a financial reward in the form of a cryptographic token in exchange for depositing recyclables like plastic containers, cans, or bottles.” Similar setups already exist in several places around the world, in particular in Northern Europe. “It would make it easy to transparently track data like volume, cost, and profit, and to evaluate the impact of each location, company, or individual participating in the program.”
We can also apply blockchain networks to automatically track things like energy consumption, power usage, etc. As a whole, these secured systems will provide more transparency and accountability to this sector that so badly needs it.