Blockchain is the fundamental technology powering the cryptocurrency industry, but its uses go way beyond Bitcoin. In fact, we’re still coming to terms with everything Blockchain could do for modern business, with new use cases and success stories emerging all the time. When Bitcoin surged in 2020, C-suite executives everywhere took notice and began adopting Blockchain for different purposes: everything from reconciling invoices to checking the provenance of products.
The truth is, Blockchain has the potential to disrupt and transform almost every aspect of digital life. Here are some of the reasons why it might be a good fit for your business.
What is Blockchain?
Blockchain is a decentralized ledger or shared database where every entry has to be confirmed and approved by peers on the network. It’s helpful to think of Blockchain as the world’s most secure Google Document, strongly encrypted and endlessly verified, in which every entry depends on the entries that came beforehand, and is agreed upon by everyone on the network.
The data is recorded with timestamps, so it can never be altered, exchanged or tampered with. Each ‘block’ in the chain has its own private key, and since data can’t be overwritten in Blockchain, there are no centralized points for cybercriminals to attack. It’s the most secure way we’ve come up with to store, catalogue and share information. Blockchain is basically un-hackable.
How can Blockchain help business?
1. Secure international payments
If your business deals with complex international payments, Blockchain essentially makes that process tamper-proof. In 2018, Banco Satander launched the world’s first Blockchain-powered money transfer service, which allowed customers to make secure same-day or next-day international money transfers. Because payments were automated and verified through the Blockchain, Satander could cut down on manual approvals, making payments faster, simpler and cheaper for its clients. These days, there are plenty of Blockchain remittance software solutions, and Australia’s biggest banks are even jumping on-board.
2. Smart contracts
Smart contracts are one of the most practical real-world uses of Blockchain. They’re just like regular contracts, but instead of needing a middle man (or middle lawyer) to verify and enforce the terms, the rules of the contract are applied in real-time via the Blockchain. These contracts are becoming incredibly popular, especially in government, healthcare and real estate, where parties constantly need to sign-off and agree upon sensitive information. Companies like Mediachain use smart contracts to make sure artists get paid on-time. While others, like Propy, use them to instantly transfer land titles (and even let customers buy property using crypto). Australian start-ups are also getting involved: AgriDigital, for example, lets farmers, transporters and wholesalers manage contracts and execute payments in real-time.
3. Supply chain management
If your business depends on complicated supply chains, Blockchain offers a way to manage that process and keep it secure. The unchangeable ledger that powers Blockchain makes it perfect for tracking goods in real-time, or allocating and distributing them more efficiently. This is a little different to how traditional Blockchain operates: normally, when it comes to cryptocurrency, the whole point of Blockchain is to allow an unlimited number of anonymous people to transact securely. For supply chains, it’s the opposite: Blockchain allows a limited number of known participants to protect their operations and make them more efficient. IBM is already leading the way here. It’s Blockchain tech, TradeLens, is being used by more than 150 exporters, importer and customs authorities all over the world.
4. Record management
For businesses that keep and store sensitive information, Blockchain offers something incredibly valuable: a storage and sharing solution that is secure, anonymous and, essentially un-hackable. The real-world potential for this sort of tech is enourmous. Governments responsible for tracking and updating birth, death and marriage records; healthcare providers who need to keep patient details safe; even companies trying to unravel the human genome (Nebula Genomics, for example, decodes 100% of a person’s DNA and stores that data anonymously through Blockchain encryption).
5. Regulatory compliance and auditing
No-one likes being audited, but Blockchain could at least make the process slightly less painful. For companies who use Blockchain technology to keep track of their finances, payments and accounts, regulatory compliance becomes incredibly easy. Not only can Blockchain automate many processes that would otherwise be subject to human error, it keeps all your financial records in a single, protected place. No-one can alter those records once they’re entered, not even the record owners. It’s still early days, but the signs suggest that Blockchain tech will fundamentally change the accounting industry over the next few years.
Need to brush up on your Blockchain skills? RMIT Online offers several Blockchain certificates and shortcourses.