Ever since Bitcoin was created in 2009, cryptocurrency has had its ups and downs. In more recent years, people have begun to see bitcoin as more than just a controversial currency, and are recognizing some of the many possibilities for business growth it presents. At the forefront of this is the public ledger that records every bitcoin transaction, known as a blockchain.
The blockchain is an alternative to traditional currency, centralized banking, and transaction methods that is not only changing the way that we handle financial transactions. Blockchain is a distributed ledger that maintains a growing list of every transaction across every network over tens of thousands of computers. This makes it almost impossible to hack, which changes the way banking is done.
A private blockchain can even change the way that you run your business, which could include these possible applications.
Smart contracts have been around for a while, but there is more buzz around them now, thanks to the Ethereum Project. This project is a decentralized platform that runs smart contracts, without the possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud, or third-party interference.
Smart contracts are self-automated computer programs that can carry out the terms of any contract. It is basically financial security held in escrow by a network that is routed to the recipients based on future events and computer code. Your business could use smart contracts to bypass regulations and lower your costs for some of your most common financial transactions. One of the main bonuses is that these contracts will be unbreakable.
There are companies, such as Slock, already using this method. Slock uses smart contracts to allow customers to rent bicycles, by unlocking a smart lock after both parties have agreed on the terms of the contract.
Cloud storage is another good use of blockchain for businesses to take advantage of. Some companies are already offering secure cloud storage while decreasing dependency. By using excess hard drive space, you can store the traditional cloud many times over. In a similar way to renting out your spare room on Airbnb, you can use spare hard drive space. The world spends about $22 billion on cloud storage alone, so this could open a revenue stream for the average user, while really reducing the cost for both companies and personal users to store data.
Supply-Chain Communications and Proof-Of-Provenance
Most of the things that we buy aren’t made by just one single entity but are in fact made by a chain of suppliers who will each sell their own components to a company that will then assemble and market the final, finished product. The problem with this kind of system is that if only one of these components goes wrong, the brand that sold it will have its reputation damaged, not the maker of the component. Using blockchain technology could proactively provide digitally permanent, auditable records that will show stakeholders which state the product is in at each value-added step of the process, so the backlash hits the right place.