The blockchain has been proposed as one of the biggest revolutions in technology, fundamentally changing the way people connect to one another. Decentralization and transparency are two of the key benefits it provides, though there is a long list of strengths and potential use cases.
When it comes to actual applications, however, it is still in its early days. DApps are beginning to pop up here and there to varying degrees of success. There are still areas where its adoption could lead to something great and, as more people learn how blockchain works, more ideas will come to fruition.
It is easy to forget the uses of blockchain beyond just cryptocurrencies. It has the potential to greatly diminish the vulnerabilities some processes face, thanks to its many strengths. These are just a few examples of areas of vulnerability where blockchain has the potential to improve for the better. Ranging from slight optimizations to revolutionizing industries, the future looks very promising.
Passports and Travel Documents
Passports are quite expensive, have limited capacity, and can lead to a lot of trouble if lost. These documents are generally just a hassle. For these reasons, blockchain can greatly improve the experience associated with traveling and for identification.
The blockchain is immutable and traceable, meaning it can’t be changed and is easily tracked. It also makes it possible to consult records without the need for a physical or digital document. Instead, these documents can be stored in the decentralized blockchain network which can be easily accessed by the involved parties when needed.
However, data can still be encrypted or hashed as necessary for privacy. Only those authorized to access information will be able to see personal information and other sensitive data. Security is a strength of the blockchain.
Another benefit of traceability in this application is that it can discourage bribery or other abuses of power, as all will be recorded at each step by each authority.
Smart contracts also have potential uses for blockchain-based passports. When being assessed for eligibility, the required documents can be stored in a smart contract and can be executed as qualified. The whole process will be greatly sped up too, reducing the waiting times currently associated with the process.
Campaign and Charity Finances
Politics is a very controversial space. Being an element of democracy, everyone should really be able to know all the details about who they are voting for to make an informed decision. Unfortunately, this isn’t an ideal world. There are still many areas and information that are not available to the general public.
One such area is finances. The source of finances for a political campaign can reveal a lot about the politician. Whether they are being paid under the table by certain groups or other outside forces.
Using a blockchain-built finance system and adopting cryptocurrencies can greatly increase transparency in the whole process. Auditing will be much simpler to do, ensuring everything remains above board.
The same is true with charities. The ability to trace payments and the movement of money can help to ensure that donations reach the intended recipients rather than just go to someone's pocket. There is no need for trust in this case, as the blockchain is trustless. Donators can see their money is going to the right causes and to where it matters most.
Elections and Voting
When it comes to voting, blockchain has the potential to make it much more secure. Fraud is a big issue that elections face, undermining the voting process. There are also hurdles and requirements such as voter registration that make it more difficult to take part in.
One way to help build an open election is through the use of blockchain. It makes it possible for voters to check the code to ensure it hasn’t been changed or manipulated in any way. They can then verify their vote on the blockchain using their own private decryption key.
Consistency is another big issue that could be resolved. Voter disenfranchisement can be a big issue. The current systems for some countries suffer from inconsistent registration requirements or other accessibility issues. Using blockchain, however, it is possible to create a system where there is little variation between documentation requirements, voting method, and general accessibility. This allows for a more level playing field with equal access for all, even across different polling stations and cities.
This is not to mention the reduced cost associated with the whole process, as it will be streamlined and run much more efficiently. There will be fewer parties involved in the process, which, alongside the tamper-proof design of blockchain, ensures that all tasks can be completed in a satisfactory timeframe safely.
Supply Chain and Distribution Networks
As mentioned before, the blockchain is perfect for the supply chain process. There are already many different projects utilizing blockchain within the industry to promote transparency, traceability, and safety.
Food Traceability is one area that has become a particular focus worldwide. Many people are understandably worried about the authenticity of the food they are eating, and whether it is safe to eat or not. The recall process can be greatly improved, reducing the number of people affected by potential contamination. Outside of that, it can also help to certify that foods are 100% vegetarian, vegan or organic, allowing people to uphold their lifestyle whether for sustainability or for their own beliefs.
Medical supplies need to be tracked and processed thoroughly to ensure they are not fake or have not been tampered with in any way. For this use case, supply chain tracking is a necessity for which blockchain will be majorly beneficial. Fake drugs greatly endanger lives and can ultimately lead to further problems such as antibiotic resistance. In some middle to low-income countries, up to 1-in-10 drugs are said to be counterfeit, solidifying the need for the technology.
Fake brands and knock-offs will also be much more difficult to produce and sell, as customers have access to the entire history of the product from production to purchase. If damage were to occur to products, it will be possible to track where in the process it occurred and act accordingly, holding the involved parties accountable.
As supply chains and distribution networks can extend across the globe, it becomes much more complex to monitor movements and ensure everything is done properly. For this reason, a blockchain solution, together with other technologies such as IoT, can greatly improve the industry.
Just the Beginning for Blockchain
These are just a few of the potentially revolutionary applications and vulnerabilities that the Blockchain can help fix. Outside of just payments, the blockchain has the strength of decentralization, so that users can deposit their trust in the code and not in a monopolistic entity. It is for this objective that the community and projects work to promote the technology as a way to improve society and hopefully the world as a whole.
There are a variety of different fields that are yet to benefit from the up and coming technology and, while some promising developments have been made, only time will tell when they will begin to see its use. Ultimately, blockchain is a technology for the people and there is so much more to be explored.
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