Incorporating Blockchain Technology into Your Business
The introduction of Bitcoin in 2009 seeded the beginnings of the cryptocurrency craze. In the past year, investors have been in a trading frenzy, with new cryptocurrencies being introduced every other day, and billions of dollars moving across a sea of digital tokens causing huge fluctuations in the crypto market. While investors are focused on cryptocurrencies, businesses and governments have been enamoured by the underlying technology that powers the crypto-economy – blockchain. Multiple industries are being revolutionised by the multi-functional decentralised ledger. What exactly is blockchain and how has it changed the way businesses operate?
What is Blockchain?
The first use for blockchain was to keep track of financial transactions made with Bitcoin. The tracking is done on a decentralised public ledger, each transaction verified through a series of algorithms processed by a global community. Verified transactions are then encrypted and secured into a ‘block’ of information with advanced cryptography. Multiple blocks are then locked in place and cannot be edited or deleted.
Here are some key features of blockchain that businesses have tapped into:
- A public and transparent database of information
- Secure records maintained by a global community
- Removal of a middle man to verify transactions
- No single point of failure
Essentially, incorporating blockchain technology into your business can help increase speed, transparency and security, while reducing costs and risks. While the benefits are clear for companies that rely heavily on transparency and security (finance, technology, etc.), is it possible for blockchain to unlock the potential of other industries as well?
Turning Energy Into a Shared Resource
The concept of decentralisation has allowed the energy industry to re-invent the way we consume and obtain energy. Traditionally, payments are made to electric and power companies based on consumption, with these companies dictating the price and availability of the resource.
Thanks to blockchain, companies are now taking control away from suppliers, and giving it consumers. Users can now hold unused energy and trade it through a decentralised public ledger, recording the generation and consumption from both users and retailers. Companies like Electrify.Asia leveraged on the smart contracts pioneered by the Ethereum blockchain to develop a retail electricity marketplace where users can purchase and sell their own electricity.
Another example of the democratisation of energy through blockchain is the recent collaboration between Perth-based blockchain company, Power Ledger and Thai renewable energy company, BCPG. They have recently launched an initiative to create a fully self-sufficient town in Bangkok with the help of Thai property developer, Sansiri. The project will see the entire town relying on stored energy from solar rooftops. The members of the community, dubbed the ‘T77 Project’, will be able to manage its own power supply, producing and selling energy through the blockchain platform.
Verifying Authentic Products and Goods
The issue of counterfeit goods and fake products have long plagued the retail industry. From luxury brands to groceries, retailers across the world are turning to blockchain technology to overcome the problem of product authentication.
One of the pioneering companies in establishing product provenance through the use of blockchain technology is Everledger. They are perhaps most famous for their work on diamonds – The Diamond Time Lapse Protocol. Using blockchain, they were able to trace and track the origins of over 2 million diamonds, keeping all records on a single, unchangeable, global digital ledger. Everledger was also the first company to begin authenticating wines, keeping each bottle’s certification secured in the Chai Wine Vault blockchain.
Besides luxury products, the food supply industry has also benefited from blockchain-based authentication. Chinese e-commerce behemoth, Alibaba, has launched their own blockchain platform to verify the provenance of food products. Fake food products is a huge problem for the Chinese market, with tainted milk formulas, soy sauce made out of hair, and even recycled sewage cooking oil. The ability to verify the authenticity of food would be able to alleviate health concerns and possibly eliminate food-related fatalities.
An Entire Nation Unified by Blockchain
Imagine an country’s records and information digitised on a public decentralised ledger. Credit histories, educational backgrounds, medical records – all blocks of information that, up until recently, have been kept in fragmented databases.
As one of the most digital savvy countries, Estonia has incorporated blockchain into their government policy. Together with Estonian company, Guardtime, they launched a digital infrastructure, X-Road, based off the KSI blockchain. They first began securing their citizens’ medical records on the platform to create a single, unchangeable database, accessible by medical practitioners and hospitals across the country. Estonia then went on to secure information on taxes, voting records, digital identities, legislative laws, and residency information.
The small nation of approximately 1.3 million is turning to blockchain to grow its population of innovators and tech entrepreneurs. They started an e-residency initiative which allows people outside of Estonia to become residents, without even having to step foot on its soil. Thanks to their ability to keep track of citizens and residents digitally, they are able to grant e-passports to businesspeople and secure their records on the national blockchain ledger. E-residents will also be able to access the full range of Estonia’s e-services which include legal and accounting advice.
Based on the myriad of examples of blockchain’s benefits, it is clear that the technology will soon be permeating all industries. The speed, security and transparency of blockchain will revolutionise the way we live. If you wish to harness the advantages of blockchain and apply it to your business, drop us a message!