How many industries could blockchain disrupt? It seems like the sky might be the limit.
Although mainstream interest has mostly revolved around fiat-like blockchain-based currencies such as Bitcoin, the reality is that blockchain has a wide range of applications in dozens or even hundreds of industries. A blockchains’ tamper-proof decentralized ledger, it’s potential for automatization through smart contracts, and it’s universal accessibility render it ideal for handling complex multi-party arrangements. While its ability to hold intrinsic value–or represent fractional ownership of real-world assets–means that industries suffering from misaligned incentives can restructure their economies, rewarding true value creators.
These broad, versatile applications of a blockchain aren’t just theory, they are being put into practice in dozens of industries right now. Here are a handful of sectors experiencing a blockchain revolution:
With job vacancies at historic highs, hiring practices and tech have become more crucial to a companies’ success than ever before. Can blockchain reform recruiting, an industry where “offline” factors such as interpersonal interactions and emotional intelligence are vital? A crop of blockchain recruiting startups argue, that blockchain for data storage, blockchain data analytics, and blockchain token economies can re-align incentives in hiring and gather higher-quality hiring data, paving the way for recruiters and hiring managers to spend more time assessing great candidates in-person and less time sorting through resumes.
BHIRED.io verifies its users’ credentials and biometric identities on the blockchain, protecting against fraud and fake profiles while incentivizing candidates to input credentials and skills data using an internal token economy and providing companies with a pool of verified and active job seekers.
While cannabis is legal for medicinal or recreational purposes in most of the U.S., clashes between state and federal laws have still created significant cash flow challenges for the legal cannabis industry. Banking, access to credit, and payment solutions are all problematic because many banks and traditional financial service providers won’t work with cannabis businesses. That’s part of the reason why cryptocurrency companies are eager to work with the cannabis industry. Crypto companies like PotCoin offer cash-free payment solutions and funds storage for cannabis distributors and retailers. Other blockchain companies are taking a big-picture approach; for example, the holding company Orthogonal uses a blockchain to tokenize a securities investment product that supports cannabis companies and other conscious capitalism ventures.
Blockchains are often criticized for their energy consumption, which can be enormous; the Bitcoin network alone uses as much electricity as the entire country of Denmark. Cutting down the blockchain’s energy demands will be essential for reducing its carbon footprint, but a blockchain could also serve an important role in actively promoting renewable energy use. The legal and financial arrangements that support energy generation and consumption are complicated, particularly when that generation stems from a dispersed and unpredictable network of renewable energy producers (e.g., residential rooftop solar panels). But a blockchain’s distributed ledger can serve as a stable, reliable source of shared truth for storing and accessing complicated energy generation agreements as real-time conditions shift. Smart contracts can even automate portions of peer-to-peer energy transactions; a pilot program from L03 and Centrica is currently underway in the U.K. that lets homes and businesses engage in the local energy market.
Supply chain management is crucial in an increasingly globalized world. Poor supply management can result in fraud and waste or even endanger lives if food contamination or dangerous labor practices go untracked. Adequate supply chain management requires close communication and easy access to trustworthy information, qualities that a blockchain happens to excel at providing. One of the most visible blockchain supply chain management programs is IBM’s Food Trust program–a Hyperledger blockchain that tracks food ingredients through the supply chain; this blockchain allows instant access to information about each ingredient’s origins in the event of a food-borne illness outbreak or contamination event. The blockchain is also being used to track supply chains in pharmaceuticals, fine wine, and even luxury sneakers!
The relationship between intellectual property and technology has always been a thorny one. While the digital age has allowed greater degrees of collaboration and exposure for far-flung creators, innovators, and artists, it’s also facilitated plenty of copyright infringement. Managing intellectual property can be time-consuming and complicated even for resource-rich institutions–that’s part of why Spiderman took so long to show up in an Avengers movie! As much as a blockchain can track the complicated movement of physical goods through a global supply chain, it can also follow intellectual properties and collaborations through the digital and business worlds.
Bernstein uses a blockchain to help companies secure trade secrets and time-stamp innovations, creating a permanent blockchain record of intellectual property throughout the patenting and invention process. Musician Imogen Heap has pioneered blockchain in the music industry, using Ethereum smart contracts to automatically divide sales of her single “Tiny Human” between her and her collaborators whenever a crypto purchase of the single is initiated.
The fluctuating price of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has garnered plenty of mainstream attention, but the actual impact of blockchain is likely to be much more profound, changing virtually every element of modern society similar to how the internet has over the past two decades.
Expect to see more and more industries disrupted by this tech in the future!