Blockchain Beyond Cryptocurrency
The word blockchain elicits thoughts of cryptocurrency nearly 100% of the time which does
Media, investors, and bleeding-edge technologists have talked about cryptocurrencies for years, and folks incorrectly think these technologies are the same. For clarity, cryptocurrencies are to blockchain what the combustion engine is to automobiles.
Large companies including IBM, Walmart, Maersk, DeBeers
What is Blockchain?
Blockchain is a distributed database with decentralized control. Blockchains include blocks linked together into chains. Each chain consists of encrypted data made up, in part, of data from the previous block to create the encryption.
Blockchains exist as both public and private ledgers. Certain implementations allow any interested party to participate while others require
Encryption jumbles up data making it unreadable without a key. Provenance refers to a data trail ensuring
Blockchains involve encrypted data in each “block” related to whatever the system designers’ desire. In the banking
For retail solutions
There’s no limit to what types of industry or transactions that will benefit from blockchain technology. Many companies and vertical markets already have live implementations as blockchain sees more and more use cases around the world on a regular basis.
Blockchain Use Cases
The most well-known blockchain technologies in production today involve cryptocurrency. There are scores of deployments with Bitcoin as the most popular. Others with unique and valuable properties include Ripple and Ethereum.
Ripple has a nice foothold in global finance markets and Ethereum uses smart contracts to replace escrow and for digital identity management and along with other implementations.
Most cryptocurrency deployments involve public blockchains allowing anyone to participate. Most corporate blockchain deployments utilize a private ledger limiting access and authorization.
Financial services have one of the greatest rationales for utilizing blockchain. The inherent security and immutability directly tie into key requirements for banking and insurance.
American Express understands these facets and
These activities happened in 2017 and 2018 and
American Express was one of the first financial services firms to implement
De Beers is an international corporation specializing in diamond exploration and mining, among other activities. In 2015 De Beers created Tracr, a blockchain platform created to track diamonds from the mine to customer.
Diamond exploration and mining suffer from certain immoral practices and customers want to know the path of their product before purchase. According to Bruce Cleaver, De Beers CEO,
“The Tracr project team has demonstrated that it can successfully track a diamond through the value chain, providing asset-traceability assurance in a way that was not possible before”
By showing where the diamond originated through the distribution chain and ultimately into a retail store, De Beers can show buyers the provenance of each diamond.
Blockchain offers key capabilities that enable De Beers the ability to provide peace of mind to end customers, something no other technology was able to do.
Numerous companies provide specific blockchain focused solutions for healthcare organizations. Medicalchain uses blockchain technology to securely store health records for a collaborative, smart approach to healthcare. This solution can protect patients from any number of hacks we’ve seen impact healthcare providers and payers.
Another key challenge in healthcare is that medical records don’t cross providers. If a patient visits an ER at one hospital, there’s a good chance that data won’t traverse to the primary care provider. Additionally, the ER won’t have access to the patient’s history. Simplyvital Health solves this problem with an
Blockpharma has a blockchain solution created to track drugs and fight against counterfeiting. The idea here mirrors what De Beers did in tracking diamonds, this time with the goal of saving lives. Blockchain use cases can
Where Does Blockchain Go From Here
Blockchain sees its origins back to 1979 with a major move forward in 1991; however, the first real world application, Bitcoin, did not launch until 2011. While Bitcoin launched eight years ago, and in the technology world this equals light years, blockchain still has a ways to go.
There are extensive ideas in large numbers of industries for blockchain use; however, we are still a few years away from mass deployment. Whether discussing blockchain deployments with voting, agriculture, government currency or entertainment, there are challenges preventing large scale deployments.
Use cases for blockchain deployment see no limit, the barrier for implementations
As with most new technology, security takes a while to gain confidence by
While nearly all the cryptocurrency hacks did not involve the underlying blockchain
The comments and statements in this article are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.
Brief Bio: Eric has 20 years’ experience in Cybersecurity and currently works as a senior managing consultant and solutions architect for IBM Security in their Security Information and Operations Consulting practice. Eric has published numerous articles and spoken at several conferences around the US during his tenure in information technology. Mr. Jeffery recently started a YouTube channel and Podcast under the moniker of Cyber Security Grey Beard where he helps student and early professionals start and grow in the cyber security field.