Technology is reshaping the world thick and fast. Blockchain, IoT, AR, VR, Big Data analytics and other emerging technologies have revolutionised the way humans interact with the world or businesses operate. More than any of the others, the blockchain disruption stands out. The blockchain is the technology behind the popular bitcoin, and since then there have been many industries adopting blockchain in various capacities. However, it remains a mystery as to how far the blockchain will change the world. Before going any further, it would be useful to look at what blockchain is, and how it works.
The blockchain is a distributed database or a shared ledger that can be used as an open database to create and store transactions by anyone who is a participant of the peer-to-peer network and has an access key. The blockchain is the list of transactions or records that are stored in the form of a block that cannot be edited once they are validated by the nodes. Here is how a typical Blockchain transaction works
Image Source: Cygnet Infotech
Looking at the process, it is evident that there would be many industries looking at adopting the blockchain technology for improving the overall security and transparency. Here are some applications of Blockchain technology for various business domains:
- Supply Chain Management: When something goes wrong with a complex “system of systems,” such as an aircraft, it is important to know the provenance, through supply chain management, of each component, down to the manufacturer, production date, batch, and even the manufacturing machine program. Blockchain holds complete provenance details of each part, accessible by each manufacturer in the production process, the aircraft owners, maintainers, and government regulators.
- IoT: Blockchain technology is the missing link to secured communication in IoT. By adding blockchain, a secured mesh network that will allow IoT devices to interconnect reliably and avoid the threats that are prevalent in central server models can be established. This decentralised approach would eliminate the single point of failure, creating a more resilient ecosystem for devices to run on. The cryptographic algorithm in blockchain would make data more private.
- Healthcare: Currently the problem with electronic health record (EGR) solutions is that they are offered by a lot of vendors and there is no universal standard followed. With this, the system turns into a silo and hampers the interoperability of the solutions. Blockchain can set up an ideal data structure which can fetch data from physician’s installed EHR system and store it in a decentralised cloud where it can be accessed only by an authorized person in a standard ledger format. Different organisations can connect all their systems and establish an interoperable network.
- Finance: Banks need a way to manage nostro(domestic) and vostro (foreign) accounts for cross-border transactions, such accounts are used to facilitate and simplify trade and foreign exchange transactions through reconciliation. Nostro/vostro account transactions can be stored on a blockchain to dramatically improve transparency and efficiency through automated reconciliation of accounts.
- Real Time Gross Settlement: RTGS systems are very dependent on a central entity, but this design creates a single point of failure. Backup data centres can help but do not solve the problem completely as there is no real distributed resiliency when using only backup infrastructure. The distributed consensus nature of the blockchain technology can be used to overcome this central point of failure, but at a great privacy cost as all stored data are fully accessible to all network members by default, and this kind of transparency is not allowed in a real bank interpayment network. Blockchain privacy properties could be used to overcome this problem.
The upsurge in blockchain adoption is clearly visible and it would not be surprising if a lot more business domains adopt the technology for securing data and improving their business efficiency and speed.
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