With the rise of digital transformation, there have been technological advances on all fronts. One such advance has been the increased adoption and implementation of Blockchain. However, in recent times, Blockchain has become unanimous with Cryptocurrency and its uses beyond the same have not received as much attention. Through the course of this article, we will explore the current landscape of Blockchain, its growth potential as well as use cases and applications beyond Cryptocurrency. The focus is to decode how Blockchain virtually has implications for every sector of the economy.
What is Blockchain?
Let’s start the discussion by understanding what exactly is Blockchain. According to IBM, “Blockchain is a shared, immutable ledger for recording transactions, tracking assets and building trust.” Each piece of data is stored in a block, which once approved is locked in its place. Different blocks of data related to one another are then added to a common chain, hence, representing the name. The greatest benefit is that each block in a Blockchain can be easily verified and immune from being corrupted.
Moving on, here are a few data points which can help us gauge the high potential growth for Blockchain. According to Cision, the global blockchain technology market is estimated to accumulate $20 billion in revenue by 2024. Furthermore, a report by Gartner claims that Blockchain was one of the most disruptive technologies for 2020. Finally, according to SAP, 71% of business leaders who are actively using blockchain believe it plays a key role in advancing the technology.
This clearly illustrates the immense potential of Blockchain and its ability to transform the technology landscape. By far, cryptocurrency or Bitcoin has been the widest application of Blockchain. Cryptocurrency is a medium of exchange of currency, much like the Indian Rupee. Blockchain is primarily the technology which enables the existence of this digital currency. According to PwC, cryptocurrency uses encryption techniques to control the creation of monetary units and to verify the transfer of funds. In this article, let’s explore more use cases of Blockchain beyond cryptocurrency and how it can impact every sector, becoming a key priority area for all CXOs out there.
Blockchain Application #1: Healthcare
To begin with, Blockchain in healthcare has the biggest application in the maintenance of patient records. The ledger technology allows healthcare professionals to secure all patient information in immutable records, which protects the records from any potential cyberattacks which might undermine their authenticity and reliability. According to Statista, 55% of healthcare applications will have adopted blockchain for commercial deployment by 2025. Furthermore, open-source Blockchain records and smart contracts can help healthcare workers provide access to patient information to other medical professionals. This will address the challenge of silos by traversing primary health centers to facilitate coordination and patient care.
Blockchain Application #2: Real Estate
Despite increased digitalization, transactions for very high value assets have been limited to offline methods. With the rise of Blockchain, buyers and sellers are finding ways to change the norm. With smart contracts, high value assets can be tokenized and traded as cryptocurrency, followed by liquidation post sale. An immutable and secure ledger also makes sense to record the numerous transactions that happen during a real estate deal between different parties. Blockchain will enable everyone in one network to view all transactions, ensuring transparency and open communication, while preventing any mutation or changes to the entries to ensure security and reliability.
Blockchain Application #3: Financial Services
In the financial services sector, while cryptocurrency is a major application, other parts also stand to benefit considerably from Blockchain. According to Sipotra, the financial sector could have an astonishingly high blockchain ROI and save up to 12 billion dollars every year by switching their transfer and storage needs to the Blockchain. Like a ledger, Blockchain can help financial institutions track transactions to ensure their accuracy and security. Additionally, Blockchain can facilitate international payments in an efficient manner, reducing unnecessary transactional costs and barriers.
Blockchain Application #4: Education
For the education sector, Blockchain’s greatest application is in the form of creating tamper proof evidence of student credentials and degrees. Various universities are exploring issuing degrees in the form of Blockchain ledgers which students can share with prospective employers and others, which doesn’t carry the risk of being altered or getting stolen. Invariably, students can have records of their entire educational qualifications in one chain, saving time during background check.
Blockchain beyond Cryptocurrency: Lessons for CXOs
In addition to the above mentioned four application cases, supply chain, banking and insurance, energy, electricity, are all sectors which stand to gain significantly by leveraging Blockchain technology. Here are top four practices for CXOs to start their journey with Blockchain technology and transform their businesses:
- Identify the use case: CXOs must start by identifying where Blockchain can be implemented in their entire business lifecycle. This involves understanding its need as well as the potential opportunity and value that implementation will bring along.
- Create a proof of concept: Before initiating enterprise-wide foundation, CXOs must focus on creating a proof of concept. This should detail what all the application will entail, how Blockchain will create an impact and gather feedback from internal and external sources. Focus should be on ensuring the right hardware and software to promote success.
- Undertake a dry run: Instead of starting with a complete transformation, CXOs should start with the application of Blockchain for a particular business segment or for a part of the life cycle. The idea is to ensure there is an alignment between the projected and realized impact and identify gaps, if any. Additionally, the focus should be on getting the workforce ready for the big move with the right skills.
- Facilitate enterprise-wide implementation: Post successful dry run, CXOs must take the onus of spearheading the enterprise-wide implementation across verticals. All technical flaws and other challenges must be resolved.
To conclude, it must be noted that the applications of Blockchain are far and many. It is finally on the CXOs to make it an organizational priority. The use cases and essential guidance mentioned above can serve as a foundation for many organizations seeking to start or accelerate their Blockchain journey.