Up until now, blockchain has been discussed almost entirely in a crypto-currency capacity. However, this technology has much bigger potential than just financial transactions. As technologists continue to explore the possibilities of blockchain, it seems its application is limitless.
Three sectors showing as much, if not more, promise as financial services are healthcare, automotive and energy. In this article, we explore how blockchain will be shaking up these sectors.
A cornerstone of any modern society, healthcare is also one of the most stressed, scrutinised sectors. With rising populations and dwindling budgets, those working in this field are constantly being challenged to do more with less. Modernise on a large scale has proven virtually impossible and much of the sector remains a prisoner of redundant processes, legacy data management systems and old-fashioned infrastructure.
One of the biggest problems facing healthcare modernisation is the sharing of patient information and records between different departments. And although technological advancements have allowed medical institutions to begin transitioning from physical to digital records, it’s difficult to ensure all instances of that information transfer are kept up-to-date, let alone accessible to all relevant parties.
Excitement amongst industry professionals at the opportunities blockchain presents is palpable. In fact research from IBM shows more than half (56%) of healthcare executives plan to implement a blockchain solution by 2020. They believe the technology can be used to create a universal information database that will enhance patient privacy, improve security, significantly reduce administration and promote the sharing of treatment and research results.
Taking Patientory as an example, we can see how patients and institutions benefit. Patients can easily access their data and hand it over to providers, who may not have a complete history of the patient’s health but will be able to view notes from previous providers and organisations.
The organisations benefit from cheaper, secure accurate and effective record storage.
A future world of autonomous cars and millions of other devices communicating and interacting with each other is no longer so far away.
With this transformation to a connected, interactive world, efficient documentation and data capture of interactions and transactions is essential. Likewise is a secure database of shared, secure, and high permission access.
Looking this time to a recent Deloitte report, the automotive industry has invested an estimated US$1.7 billion into blockchain projects over the past three years. Meanwhile, Gartner predicts that ‘blockchain’s business value-add will grow to US$176 billion by 2025.’
Blockchain can be used as a shared ledger to log all car repair and maintenance history in one place for a car maintenance program.
It can facilitate a shared space for automotive OEMs, parts distributors, dealerships, service mechanics, insurance providers, and others to support the ability of parts or equipment within a car to autonomously sense their own needs.
While this won’t enable our cars to be as witty as Knight Rider’s artificially intelligent, talkative car Kitt, it does mean our cars could advise us about when they’re in need for repair, contact remote users for updates or nearby suppliers for replacement parts, negotiate pricing and appointments for service and repairs, authenticate the proper technician, and process the respective payment for services.
Not only does this mean greater value to the customer, but it presents an amazing opportunity for car manufacturers to engage and retain their customers beyond the purchase of a car.
Blockchain could also be used in the financing of automotive vehicles. Usually, auto financing includes different verification steps. Applying what’s been done in financial services, blockchain could be improve efficiency in areas such as customer bank validation, multiple phases of transaction setup and execution, issuing letters of credit, review of multiple documents sourced from different locations and many more.
As with healthcare, energy supply and management plays an integral role in society. Traditionally, we have a somewhat one-sided relationship with energy. Our homes use energy, we pay our bill, and so the cycle continues.
That being said there have been some pioneers in this industry. Early adopters of solar power have a slightly more balanced energy relationship. Any energy produced by solar that isn’t used is sold back to the utility. Yet even this relationship is dated and inefficient.
With the application of blockchain, the energy we use may become much cleaner and it will give us the opportunity to control how our homes consume energy to begin with.
Blockchain is a decentralised ledger technology. When applied to the energy sector, it will enable people to trade energy among themselves.
This will encourage more renewable energy projects as a whole, ultimately progressing our transition from carbon-emitting electricity generation.
Blockchain technology will enable individuals to buy and sell energy through smart contracts, thus, tokenizing renewable energy.
It will allow wind, solar and hydro producers to seamlessly connect with investors, who are willing to pay upfront for the right to consume renewable energy. As a distributed system.
This ensures the energy industry is no longer hampered by middlemen. And the energy used by individuals in homes could form a microgrid where communities become resilient to power outages, as well as reduce the drain on the environment.
Blockchain could also use artificial intelligence to study a consumer’s energy consumption pattern and purchase energy accordingly.
This platform involves a hardware unit. The AI-based smart energy agent has access to multiple energy markets and can also use extra energy generated from solar panels.
Blockchain technology has various and limitless possibilities in many different sectors.
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