Revolution has been before & you’ve probably heard that blockchain technology is going to revolutionize. But what actually is it and how is it going to disrupt these industries?In simplest terms, block chain refers to a decentralized database. If you think of a traditional database like a spreadsheet, running on a single computer, block chain distributes that so the spreadsheet runs on millions and millions of computers. It also uses state of the art cryptography, so that once information goes in, it is virtually impossible to get it out again without the original pass code or key.
The real disruption here is that trust is established through collaboration and code, rather than a central authority. So you no longer need a bank to make a money transfer around the world. You no longer need an escrow account to buy a home, or a real estate agent to facilitate the transaction. You no longer need a company or central authority to facilitate a transaction of any kind. That is revolutionary and has the potential to revolutionize nearly every industry. But here are some of the most likely:
As the power of online and distance learning grows, so does the need for an independent way of verifying students’ transcripts and educational records. A blockchain based system could serve almost as a notary for educational records, creating a way for employers and other educational institutions to access secure records and transcripts. In fact, it could also help universities and other large institutions collaborate. No longer would a student have to wait for the course she wants to be offered at Harvard if Oxford is offering it online; her grades and records would be easily and instantly transferable.
When the average person hears the word "blockchain," they probably think "Bitcoin," and so it's no surprise that banking tops our list. Blockchain would be a more secure way to store banking records, and a faster, cheaper way of transferring money through the decentralization provided by blockchain. Plus, there's minimal risk of a run on a blockchain system or a collapse, as there's no central "vault." It's as though each person's money has its own private vault that no one else can access.
Some of the biggest challenges in healthcare could be solved by a blockchain system allowing all doctors and healthcare providers to access your health records securely and easily. Unlike the days of paper records, or even today when digital health records can be created and stored in a myriad of different systems, your health records could be singular, complete, and travel with you from birth to death, regardless of how many times you change doctors or insurance systems. Additionally, your health information could be accessed immediately, at any time, potentially offering doctors lifesaving information in an emergency.
If you've ever bought or sold a home, you know how much paperwork is involved. But blockchain systems could be used to simplify the process and eliminate escrow altogether. Smart contracts could be designed that only execute when certain conditions are met, including funding. Besides, all these various documents could be stored securely. A startup called Deedcoin is offering cryptocurrency powered transactions that decrease the commission rate for the agent to as little as 1 percent.
Storing and retrieving documents as well as verifying their provenance are key functions of the legal industry. With blockchain technologies, questions over the legality of wills or other legal documents could be eliminated by securely storing and verifying documents. Also, questions of digital inheritance, especially with the rise of cryptocurrencies, can be eliminated with blockchain secured documents.
Aside from voting systems, blockchain technologies could be used to help reduce and eliminate bureaucratic red tape and corruption in government agencies. For example, welfare, disability, veterans and unemployment benefits could be more easily verified and distributed, eliminating fraud and waste. Smart contracts could ensure that government funds are only released when certain conditions are met whether to contractors or foreign governments in the form of aid. And security, efficiency, and transparency in government functions could be increased across the board.
It seems like startups like Airbnb and Uber have already disrupted these markets, but blockchain could create true peer-to-peer networks for rentals and sharing of goods and services that would eliminate the need for the middle-man company, which naturally takes a cut of the fee. In fact, there's no reason these peer-to-peer networks couldn't expand to renting and borrowing just about anything from books to tools to furniture and beyond.