The Wider Uses of Blockchain

Transparency & accountability isn’t just for money

For the most part, blockchain has changed finance for the better. The financial world has long been in serious need of transparency, honesty and accountability, which is exactly what blockchain’s general ledger allows. As blockchain’s popularity increases, the technology is being used in other industries too. In fact, it has utility in every business where important info or assets are involved. So, exactly which sectors are benefitting from blockchain technology, and how?

1. Music
Before the advent of MP3 and mass music sharing, it was easy for an artist or record label to track their success. Now, digitisation has made this far more difficult by complicating ownership rights. It can also be difficult to know if all of the song or album’s contributors are receiving their fair share of revenue. Blockchain is bringing much needed transparency to the music industry, addressing problems with royalty distribution, licensing and artist equity. PeerTracks, for instance, released their MUSE blockchain in 2015. MUSE is specifically designed to manage copyrights and payments, as well as supplying artists with valuable information about their followers. Other companies in this area include Bittunes and Ujo Music.

2. Event ticketing
It’s common to miss out on tickets for a popular gig, concert or show. After trawling verified ticket sites, many people turn to secondary sales platforms. Unfortunately, these sites can be fraudulent and extortionate, charging inflated prices for tickets that, in some cases, never even exist. It’s such a big problem that the UK government has prohibited bots from purchasing tickets for ridiculously expensive resales. Citizen Ticket aims to bring transparency, security and fairness to ticket sales. Their ethical ticket platform, BitTicket, is the first to use blockchain in the ticket sales industry. BitTicket combats counterfeiting by making every ticket sale publicly verifiable on the blockchain, guaranteeing the value of the ticket. BitTicket sales also contribute to two charities – the Movember Foundation and SkatePal.

3. Healthcare
Within healthcare, blockchain has the potential to protect both patients and medical facilities from administration mishaps, insurance debates and data infringements. For example, personal health records could be stored on the blockchain with a private key which, allowing only authorised individuals to access them. Surgery receipts could be stored on a blockchain and then sent to insurance providers to prove that an operation has taken place. The tech could also be used for general healthcare management, including the supervision of drug prescription, regulation compliance, test results and keeping track of medical supplies.

4. Cloud storage
Cloud services are generally centralised, meaning that users rely on a single provider to keep their information safe. Public cloud services are especially vulnerable to cybersecurity breaches, and are completely unsuited to sensitive data. According to Nasdaq, blockchain will disrupt cloud solutions within the next three to five years by decentralising storage. By placing online assets in more than one location, users can benefit from the security of multiple providers. US startup Storj is currently testing a blockchain cloud network to improve security and decrease dependency. Eventually, blockchain could allow any Internet user to store data for an agreed price.

5. Digital security
Even if you don’t realise it, so much of your personal identity is stored online. Now, even passports can be electronic. It’s vital to protect this data against malicious influences, and blockchain could help to do so. Important personal and business records can be stored on the general ledger, given an address with a public IP, and then confirmed by Blockchain users. In many ways, this is safer than carrying around physical documents. Blockchain tech could also make record-keeping more reliable by encrypting documents and giving access to authorised citizens. Smart contracts are one example of this, confirming any agreement made between parties. Looking forward, citizens could eventually use one blockchain based ID for all identification needs. . . but whether this is the safest method is up for debate.

6. Digital Voting
For hundreds of years, voters have turned up to polling stations and submitted paper ballots. In a digitised world, it’s a wonder that this outdated institution still exists. Numerous countries have tested e-voting with ID cards, mobile phones and private webpages, but reluctance remains. The reason is simple – security. How do you make sure votes remain confidential, whilst verifying the choices made by the electorate? Blockchain could be the answer. In 2014, Denmark’s Liberal Alliance party became the first to use blockchain voting. Instead of replacing incumbent infrastructure, blockchain technology could work alongside it to verify voter’s identities before they submit their vote. The vote would essentially become a transaction, stored on the general ledger but anonymous to all other parties.

Blockchain is a versatile and effective method of encouraging honesty and openness in business, regardless of industry. It enables greater security for assets, personal information, important records and contractual agreements through a distributed and reliable platform. However, blockchain technology is already struggling to keep up with demand. Coinbase hiccups earlier in the year and this month’s Ethereum crash show that the system is far from perfect. Hopefully, the usefulness of blockchain in so many different sectors will encourage miners and developers to find a solution to these problems.