By now most recognize the term “blockchain” and associate it with bitcoin, or with cryptocurrency transfers in general. But with so many other uses for the technology having emerged in the last couple of years, it’s worthwhile to step back on occasion and look at how it is impacting (or may impact) society more broadly. The following are just a few industries and practices that are ready to start making effective use of blockchain – and in some cases may have already started doing so.
1. Real Estate
This may be one of the more fascinating areas to discuss, because it’s one that very few people saw coming, but which has already begun to make use of blockchain. Proponents of integrating blockchain into real estate argue that it will grant people looking to invest in property the ability to liquefy and sell just like one would through a stock exchange. This could in theory allow people to sell fractions of property, rather than having to find a single buyer in order to move on with a transaction. Meanwhile, the blockchain can also be used to help people create what are called “smart contracts,” which can be of use in more conventional buy-and-sell situations. A smart contract in this context essentially guarantees through a blockchain application that funds will be transferred exactly as has been agreed upon, and in exchange for the deed to a property.
Election security has become a major issue in recent elections around the world, prompting discussions about how to circumvent potential problems. Some have suggested doing away with electronics altogether and reverting to paper voting ballots. But this seems unlikely, and if we look forward instead of backward, the blockchain may offer the best solutions. Keep in mind, if you’re not particularly familiar with this technology, that blockchain can transfer data as readily as wealth. And given that it’s designed to be incorruptible and wholly transparent, it may just prove to represent the tamper-proof, secure election system we’ve been waiting for.
3. Online Gaming
The world of online gaming is one that has always stayed current with regard to digital innovations. Some related sites have in fact already experimented with cryptocurrency, which opens the door to further blockchain integration. Where conventional gaming is concerned this may result in faster downloads and more efficient microtransactions. There’s also casino gaming to consider though, which is where the greatest blockchain potential may be. For one thing, a universal wealth transfer system like this may make people more comfortable and secure dealing with international platforms, which is significant given that online casinos in New Zealand and other far-flung locations are some of the biggest worldwide providers. The instantaneous withdrawal and deposits that blockchain could offer in this space would be valued by many as well.
The internet has made it incredibly easy to send and receive money digitally, not only with friends but with strangers as well. This is exhibited in particular by the rise in crowdfunding platforms, which has been ongoing for several years now. As good as these platforms have gotten though, blockchain looks particularly promising in this space because of its ability to reduce fees associated with the actual collection of money raised. Blockchains are decentralized by nature, and thus not connected to any one processing or crowdfunding company that would be looking to collect fees to generate a profit.
5. Health Care
It may take a while to see sweeping adoption in health care, but ultimately this is an industry that may make significant everyday use of blockchain functions. To be sure, the technology could be used to streamline various processes relating to insurance and payments. However, the more constant use might ultimately be in handling patient data and records. This is by nature sensitive and confidential information, and yet it also needs to be transferred, fairly frequently, from one doctor or facility to another. Storing patient information in the blockchain would in theory make this process instantaneous while protecting the integrity of the data, ultimately allowing for more efficiency in numerous hospital functions.