Hundreds of blockchain platforms are currently under construction. Blockchain developers swear by blockchain tools, and platforms like Ethereum; and this shows that blockchain isn’t just for speculating on the price of Bitcoin.
But what about the platforms for those of us who aren’t full-time blockchain evangelists? While many blockchain projects aimed at the broader population are building their platforms and boosting their web presence, it may seem like there’s nothing out there for users who aren’t developers.
It’s a fair impression, but it’s not an accurate one. Here are some industries–other than blockchain software development–where blockchain-based networks are in use.
Real Estate Transactions
Deedcoin uses a blockchain to manage access to their network of approved Deedcoin agents. The agents accept Deedcoin tokens (DEED) in place of cash fees, incurring major savings for home buyers and sellers. Deedcoin agents flourish in the overcrowded real estate industry by offering standout discounts and expending virtually nothing on advertising or customer acquisition; this allows them to close more deals per year than usual. The first DEED home sale took place in March. The buyer used 20 Deed for the 2% of the home’s value charged in fees by their Deedcoin agent, resulting in a rebate of $3,780 for the home buyer. As Deedcoin’s official launch approaches, expect to see more of these blockchain-enabled real estate transactions.
Supply Chain Tracking
Supply chain tracking is one of the most notorious use-cases for a blockchain. As supply chains for everything from olive oil to dog food to printer paper become more complicated and geographically disparate, the task of keeping track of where raw materials and finished products originate and where they wind up becomes more pressing and complicated. Fortunately, a blockchains distributed ledger can serve as an immutable, universally accessible, source of supply chain information. For example, the blockchain-based platform WaBi was developed in response to a 2008 food safety scandal in China that killed six infants who were fed contaminated milk; because of this, shoppers at partner baby stores and other retailers can scan a barcode to access a blockchain record of the product’s origin to verify its safety.
Customer Loyalty Programs
Loyalty programs aren’t just cards in customers’ wallets. They’re vital tools for developing customer analytics and boosting repeat business. They involve plenty of comprehensive and valuable data; when gambling giant Caesars declared bankruptcy, creditors valued their rewards program at $1 billion, a sum that reflects just how much the data gathered by these programs matters to a company’s bottom line. A number of blockchain-based loyalty programs are preparing for launch, but consumers who fly on Singapore Airlines can take advantage of blockchain-based loyalty rewards right now. Customers can download the KrisPay digital wallet and exchange their flyer miles for points that can be spent at beauty parlors, restaurants, and other partner businesses. The program is built on top of a blockchain, which protects customer data from corruption or fraud while minimizing rewards redemption friction.
Timestamping and Legal Signatures
Blockchain can provide an indelible timestamp and connect that timestamp to a unique private/public key pair. Sean Au with Decentralize Today points out that these qualities alone don’t entirely replace notarization (which usually requires verifying a signer’s identity through in-person interaction and a government-issued ID), but a blockchain’s immutable timestamp still opens up doors for unique legal services. Notary-like services like Stampd allow blockchain users to mark a designated document with a tamper-proof, irreplicable digital timestamp via the Bitcoin network. As blockchain ledgers and contracts become more prevalent, they’ll also become more relevant in legal proceedings. In Tennessee, Wyoming, Florida, and few other states, electronic signatures, and contracts executed via blockchain are already considered legally binding.
International Money Transfers
Money transfers are another use case that seems like a perfect fit for a blockchain. Moving fiat currency across national borders can be complicated and expensive, but because a blockchain is inherently peer-to-peer and universally accessible, it provides a low-cost solution for banks and individuals looking to send money. Ripple, a cryptocurrency that launched in 2012, is a critical component in Santander Bank’s One Pay FX service. One Pay uses a blockchain to help customers complete international transfers within a day; a slew of banking and financial services giants have filed blockchain patents to explore blockchain-based financial services further.
Medical Records Management
Everyone visits multiple medical providers in their lifetime. To provide the best care, each new provider needs access to their patient’s medical history. Yet, that medical history is usually fragmented across several papers and digital records; a blockchain could serve as a universally accessible ledger belonging to each patient, who could then grant permission to providers to read or add information to their medical history. Medicalchain does just that with their Hyperledger-based blockchain medical record system, which gives patients control over who accesses their medical information. Medicalchain’s recently commenced pilot program is a partnership with the UK’s Grove Medical Group. Grove’s thousands of patients can now choose to create a Medicalchain blockchain wallet and use it to control access to their medical record.
There are plenty of pie-in-the-sky blockchain projects currently in development, and many of them are poised to play a significant role in the coming blockchain revolution. However, in the here and now, everyday consumers can still benefit from the blockchain-based platforms that are already live.