Blockchain: not just for digital currencies

By now, almost everyone has heard of blockchain technology, although many still don’t understand exactly what it is. Bitcoin wouldn’t have survived without it, but that doesn’t mean its use is limited to digital currency. In fact, blockchain is primed to transform dozens of industries over the coming years, leading the digital revolution and ensuring consumer and business security in a new, online world.

Blockchain is a system of encrypting data that makes it less susceptible to hacking. Think of it as a digital ledger of transactions, where each transaction is a block in the chain. In order for someone to tamper with one of the blocks, they would have to go backwards through the chain – changing every block in the chain in the process, making it almost impossible to hack. Blockchain is a secure, modern way to record transactions and other data.

Whilst in recent years, blockchain has become well known as the technological foundation of digital currencies, there are many more applications for blockchain. Let’s take a look at some of the most transformational uses of blockchain.

Cybersecurity
There are many different applications of blockchain within the cybersecurity field. The Fintech sector is already applying blockchain technology to smart contracts to enforce the rules of a contract in real-time, and even NASA have jumped on board implementing blockchain in their own cyber security system.

Improving security in private messaging
It is well understood that companies like Facebook use our private messages to collect data for advertisers and algorithms. But how can we know that this data is kept private? Blockchain is emerging as the benchmark in data encryption, being able to both secure private messages and allow streamlined connectivity between various messaging platforms. While none of the biggest players have fully switched to blockchain yet, there are many blockchain messaging apps on the market including Dust, Status, and BeeChat.

IoT security
IoT, or the Internet of Things, refers to the array of ordinary objects and appliances which are these days connected to the internet: smart watches, smart speakers, smart fridges, and more. These devices are constantly sending data between consumer and service, but they’re not always secure. Blockchain technology can be used to properly secure the data sent and received by IoT devices and increase trust in the sector.

Payment processing
As we hurtle towards our future as a cashless society, it’s important that digital transactions are just as safe (or safer!) than cash transactions. Blockchain can be applied in payment processing and transactions to expedite transfer between bank accounts or individuals. With blockchain, transfers needn’t jump through the security hoops that banks require, which means payments between accounts can be processed almost instantly and entirely securely.

Digital identification
Blockchain can be used in a myriad of ways to confirm identity online. The clearest example of this is in the creation of digital IDs, something that Microsoft is already using blockchain to do. Digital identification using blockchain could make obtaining official ID more accessible. For example, it could be used to increase the global population of people who can access financial services and bank accounts.

Digital identification could also be applied to other situations where identity is important, for example in implementing a secure, easy, online voting system. Blockchain can already be used to secure online votes and prevent them from being tampered with, but applying blockchain to the identification element of voting could make the system simpler and more secure.

Supply chain tracking
Supply chain tracking may not be the most exciting application of blockchain but it is an important one nonetheless! Blockchain technology can be used to monitor supply chains all the way from processing raw materials to transporting them from manufacturer to consumer. This will make it easier for businesses to track items and even view product performance throughout the supply chain. It will also bring new technology to the food safety industry, where tracing the origin of food quickly and accurately is absolutely crucial in the event of locating the source of a food-borne illness or contaminant.

This list is really just a glimpse into the possibilities offered by blockchain technology. Over the coming years and decades, there is no doubt that blockchain will be widely used on a daily basis to secure, anonymise and protect data trails around the world.

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