Blockchain Industry: The blockchain is a digital ledger that businesses can record transactions across many computers. So, there’s no centralized version of this information. It can work to transfer funds securely, for example. The blockchain might not seem like it has much use at first glance, but once you understand its full potential, it becomes apparent that this technology will change money and business in incredible ways.
The most commonly discussed blockchain application today is bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. But as time goes on and the underlying software continues to be refined by programmers worldwide, more applications are being discovered with staggering potential impacts on personal finances and global trade.
Here are three key areas where the blockchain could have an enormous impact:
- Financial services
- Authentication systems
- Supply chains
The idea of ‘smart contracts’ is taking off in the financial services space, which could drastically change how transactions are made between businesses and individuals in the future. For example, automating many types of financial agreements, loan approvals, property leases, etc. Smart contracts will take much of the headache out of this process for both parties relatively.
These contracts can be designed to be executed when certain conditions are met (for instance, only when the famous John Hancock has been obtained). Or they can execute automatically according to pre-programmed instructions that one cannot override. For instance, you might want your monthly rent check to go through only after your landlord confirms that their last earthquake inspection was completed with satisfactory results.
Another area where this technology will change money and business is authentication systems. Many people rely on centralized authorities like banks to vouch for them. This is how one typically gains access to significant accounts like investment or trading platforms. This authority can also be used as a double-edged sword, however, because putting all of your trust into one entity can make you vulnerable if they become compromised (as might have happened with the recent Equifax hack).
The blockchain could take over tasks like identity verification to ensure that no single entity has central control over data that should be private. The security of personal identity information would therefore need to be bolstered by other key features of the blockchain technology, like using multiple authentication factors, end-to-end encryption, and private keys that allow for secure data sharing.
The blockchain will also have a profound impact on the way companies track inventory movement through their supply chains. Not only can businesses be sure that their shipment information is accurate with this technology, but they can also protect themselves against common types of fraud along the way.
For example, with the help of the blockchain, it would be possible to verify whether or not certain high-value products were shipped by specific suppliers, which could reduce instances of counterfeit goods making their way into major retail stores. This could simultaneously increase consumer confidence about where their purchases are coming from and help vendors cut down on the costs of checking up on supply chains to keep this information accurate.