With all the hype surrounding Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and other cryptocurrencies, casual observers tend to overlook the intriguing and revolutionary technology that underpins it -- blockchain. In fact, it’s often been said that although cryptocurrencies have an unpredictable future at the moment, blockchain technology is here to stay. Across finance, healthcare, artificial intelligence, media, government and other sectors, innovative uses of the blockchain are emerging that can change or impact the way people and/or businesses interact for the better.
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What is the Blockchain?
It is essentially a chain of blocks containing data that are bundled together, which forms a distributed data structure that is replicated and shared among the members of a network. Each data block contains a record of many transactions and is linked to the previous block in the blockchain through a cryptographic hash of the previous block. This database is shared across a network of computers known as the distributed ledger network.
CoinFalcon takes a quick look at some of the most interesting applications of this technology in the modern world:
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This remains one of the most persistent and pertinent issues in today’s modern economy of information and sharing. In a world where it’s so easy to share content that is not supposed to be shared for free, big corporations and the big governments may have finally found a viable solution in blockchain technology, using it to make copyright protection to be easier. Rather than limit the number of copies of a certain film that can be seen, small scale artists can protect the content they produce from unauthorized use, which in turn would allow more money to move fairly through the economy. However, if the big companies used the same tech for their own intentions, it might not be the most optimal outcome.
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The ability of blockchain to create a memory that is not erasable or reversible but at the same time easy to access for information means that the gaming industry could definitely utilize it in the generation of infinite procedurally generated worlds and levels. This would then provide a great way for future games to be able to create random but unchanging worlds. Game makers seem to also be excited by the ability to develop the randomness and random number generation (RNG) algorithms further. The fact that these RNG results are highly secure upon release and without being endangered is making them even consider using blockchain to develop gambling games. A number of online roulette Australia companies are currently working on developing games based on this technology so allow players can enjoy the kind of security that is not available in the usual games. Exploration and role-playing games will also benefit from blockchain technology, although it might take a while to reach that level of development.
Did you know that the term “smart contract”’ has been in use since 1993, but is now associated with the blockchain thanks to the emergence of the Ethereum Project back in 2013. Today, Ethereum is famous for being a decentralized platform that runs these smart contracts -- self-automated applications that run exactly as programmed without any possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third-party interference. There’s even been a lot of talk about how smart contracts and blockchain have the potential to replace lawyers. Of course, there is still a lot of speculation, but such potential cannot go ignored for long.
Looking for a convenient and inexpensive notary service? Blockchain technology can help. Services like stampd.io can be used to notarize proof of ownership of digital creation. Meanwhile, companies like Verint Verba are utilizing the blockchain to push communication data including call details and media hash information into a Quorum blockchain and offer an immutable record of voice recordings to improve regulatory conformance.
Secure Digital Identity
Security has always been a top concern for businesses of all sizes, more so when fraud is estimated to cost the industry a whopping $18.5 billion or so annually. Blockchain technology offers a solution to many digital identity issues since it has the ability to make tracking and managing digital identities both secure and efficient, which then leads to more seamless sign-on and reduced fraud. Our current method of securing our digital identities border around hackable password-based systems of shared secrets that are exchanged and stored on insecure systems. With blockchain-based authentication systems, however, security is based on irrefutable identity verification using digital signatures and checking based on public key cryptography. This means it can easily be applied to various identity applications like IDs, online account logins, passports, E-Residency, and even birth certificates. Companies like ShoCard are already using this technology to validate an individual’s identity on their mobile device.
A secure and efficient voting process is central to any functional democracy. Across many countries that practice democracy, however, it has always been a challenge to keep the traditional ballot box free from technical errors, malicious attacks, potential fraud, or damage. Since it is designed to be highly transparent and secure, blockchain offers a superior methodology where events can’t be erased and any observer can, in theory, analyze a series of transactions on a (public) blockchain. Properly implemented, blockchain technology may well be the ideal component in a fraud- and error-free future process of digital voting.
Upgraded Networking and IoT Applications
Tech giants Samsung and IBM teamed up for a concept known as ADEPT, or Autonomous Decentralized Peer-to-Peer Telemetry, which leverages blockchains to utilize a mix of proof-of-work and proof-of-stake to secure transactions. Under this concept, a blockchain would serve as a public ledger for a large number of devices, which in turn, eliminates the need for a central hub and instead serve as a viable bridge between many devices at a much lower cost. Think about it, if there’s no longer a need for a central control system, then all of these devices could easily communicate with one another autonomously and allow for a more seamless process to manage software updates, bugs, or manage energy.
Current Obstacles for Blockchain Adoption
In spite of the many current and promising benefits of blockchain technology, there are still many difficulties hindering its widespread adoption. These include:
- De-centralization and Transparency can be a double-edged sword -- For big organizations, like businesses or governments, the ability to tweak and alter transactions remain important management tools. Since blockchain is based on a decentralized and transparent nature of transactions and prevents organizations from making active changes to historical transactions, regulators and policymakers are not so keen on making such a drastic change, just yet.
- It is currently quite costly to switch and integrate this technology -- It’s true that blockchain can improve the efficiency and security of transactions and applications; however, the fact that it is still a relatively new technology means it can be difficult and/or costly to be integrated with the infrastructure of many larger organizations. For example, most banks or government agencies may still be using legacy systems that are inefficient and inadequate, but the costs and benefits of a complete overhaul of the system will not make sense, especially if adopting blockchain solutions do not present a clear business case on such a large scale
- Regulatory Challenges -- Global leaders at the 2018 G20 summit, acknowledged the benefits of adopting blockchain technologies and even arrived at a common consensus of introducing an International Cryptocurrency Tax for cross-border payments, so as to deal with handle issues like Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism. However, since there is no single regulatory body for blockchain, these governments may take a while to adopt it as they often prefer to implement adequate regulatory frameworks.
What do you think about blockchain technology?