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Bitcoin critics often make the clame that “crypto-based technology has nothing to contribute to the everyday world.” It seems like demonizing digital currency is a zealous fetish of theirs, while blatantly ignoring the breakthroughs already made and the potential that the blockchain technology offers. However, some of the most prominent tech gurus of our age, such as Bill Gates, agree that the Blockchain does have a lot of potential. This potential can be added to every sector out there, which will make the sectors more flexible and nimble in their fields of operation. I will pick two “sectors” where Blockchain technology, or a “Blockchain-esque” technology, can and will make a difference in the sector it is applied in.
Financial/ Banking sector
Banks can be a force for good. They can provide start-ups with some much needed investments, or give already established companies capital to expand their services. However, the past years the banks have been in the spotlight in a bad way, mostly due to unprofessional behavior by some misguided employees.
Some academics argue that the banking system is “living on borrowed time” and that they have to adapt or die a slow death. These academics point to the fact that after the 1980’s, no significant sector innovations came out. This is not solely the banking sector’s fault — governments are to blame for this as well.
There is also another problem with the current banking system. The Banks and financial institutions are only accessible to about half the world population. However some studies suggest that that number is significantly higher and about 53% of the world population would be a better estimate. Whatever the case the cause is that the banks have certain rules they have to follow and that the fees can be quite high, which is one of the reasons that more than half of the world population is unbanked because they can’t afford a bank account.
While the banks are still struggling with a lack of transparency, the blockchain offers a totally open solution. The blockchain itself is a pseudonymous ledger, which provides the necessary transparency while ensuring some form of privacy of the blockchain users.
I call the blockchain “pseudonymous” since governments and law enforcement can theoretically trace public addresses to their owners. For example: the Israeli intelligence community discovered that some IS terrorists were using Bitcoin and the blockchain to fund their activities. Now, if you see the speed on which this can be traced and compare that to a regular bank transfer, one might claim that the blockchain is better equipped to locate illegal activities on its network than in the banking sector.
Now I did point to the fact that there are a lot of unbanked people in the world. The relatively easy access to the blockchain and Bitcoin makes this technology ideal for the unbanked. The only requirement is that you have access to the internet and you can create your wallet. Usually the access to internet is pretty low cost and is theoretically accessible for everyone.
Now there are some problems with this model, like the fact that Internet isn’t widely available in all parts of the world. Unbanked people mostly belong to the poorer levels of a society and can’t afford to travel each week to a city where internet is available to them. However, many of them have access to cellphones, enabling them to download a bitcoin wallet and use the digital currency.
This problem was quite obvious from the beginning and as such Pavlo Tanasyuk, founder of SpaceBIT, is creating a solution to that particular problem by launching the first crypto vault satellite in space in late 2015. This will open up a wide range of new possibilities for blockchain and for the unbanked.
Another useful service the blockchain technology can provide is identifying products. Medication is one of the main products the blockchain can contribute in a very big way. Counterfeit medication hurts and even kills a lot of people in a lot of places in the world. According to the WHO, this threat is growing every day and should be stopped at all costs.
Currently, Pavlo Tanasyuk and his dedicated team are working on integrating blockchain technology in the pharmaceutical sector. Since the blockchain is an open ledger, the medication can be tracked from point of origin to its destination. This modus operandi can also be implemented in luxury products like Versace or Armani clothes, shoes and every other product that is susceptible for counterfeit practices.
There are also other places where the blockchain technology can be beneficial. The travel sector is one such place. “Tagging” luggage of the passengers has already been done and works fine as long as the luggage doesn’t go missing. Some people that have lost luggage either never found their luggage, which resulted in some form of compensation from the company that lost it, or the people had to wait several days before receiving their luggage.
Just like with the banks, this system needs to be updated for a number of reasons. The compensation of lost luggage is an extra cost for travel agencies or air transportation companies. There are options where you can buy ridiculously expensive tracking “toys” for your suitcase. There is a company that offers 450 dollars for one to potential customers and another start up is charging 50 euros for the tracker plus another 50 euros monthly or annual subscription fee.
The blockchain technology can provide the same tracking service as these “toys,” but at a much lower price. Some kind of app can be developed that would work much like the blockchain-based system for tracking the shipment of medicine. Not only would this solution be cheaper than a luggage tracker, but it would be nearly incorruptible due to the nature of the blockchain. Such a system would save everyone time and money, and would raise productivity Customers using planes to travel will be a bit less grumpy if their luggage does not arrive when they have landed. Customer support, or even the travellers themselves, can check where said luggage is at the moment. This will result in a speedy solution for everyone.
Throughout history there are a lot of points of disruption that are visible. This is true on social, economic, financial and every other theme and aspect of a society. Most of these changes or “the spark of change” can be traced to new ideas. These new ideas will often challenge and clash with the established perceptions, work ethics, and general ways of doing things because these new ideas often are innovative ways to better the established modus operandi.
Over time, these “new ideas and work methods” have been integrated into society. At the beginning of the industrial revolution, many people thought the inventors of machines like the “spinning Jenny” were crazy. Years later, the same people that labelled the inventors as “crazy” were now heralding them as “new captains of industry” and “Da Vinci’s of their time.” The same can be said with the Internet.
Whatever the case may be, the blockchain does have a lot of beneficial aspects in regards to improving the current systems present in industry, production, travel, etc. These benefits will once again change the human perspective and advance society.
What are some ways you think the blockchain could improve existing business models? Let us know in the comments below!
Image Source: Spacebit