Blockchain is incorruptible digital ledger that can be programmed to record virtually everything of value across many computers in a verifiable and permanent way. Blockchain technology has been initially used primarily in the financial sector. However, its applicability is gradually transcending borders, economic sectors, political systems, and societies among others. Today different industries use its distributed ledger applications to make processes and services more effective and efficient.
Here are some of the industries that the blockchain technology can be applied with potentially positive effects.
Cyber security and cyber-crime
In 2015, IBMs President and CEO, Ginni Rometty, said, “Cybercrime is the greatest threat to every company in the world.” This might happen since cybercrime is expected to be the world’s worst nightmare by 2021 if nothing is done to eradicate it permanently. The threats of cyber-attacks are a major problem all over the world. Cyber security spending is expected to exceed $ 1 Trillion from 2017-2021.According to Gartner, information security has been pushed to spend $96 billion in 2018 due to the rising tide of cyber-crime. Shockingly 46% of cybercrimes arise due to employees’ negligence according Kaspersky Lab and B2B International report. Uninformed and careless employees are the number one cause of cyber security incidences. This is so because they hide insecurity incidences without knowing that a single unreported threat can cause dangerous consequences to the business and increase overall damage. Sometime cyber criminals use employees to gain entry into the organizations systems.
Blockchain is a technology that helps encrypt all actions performed into a code that is inherent in a file. The encrypted information cannot be removed, altered or omitted which makes the files records completely transparent and permanent. Blockchain is designed in such a way that it cannot be hacked, as it is immutable. As such, blockchain solutions can be used to prevent cyber-attacks as well as secure a vast amount of useful and sensitive data by removing any points of failure through decentralizing the network. Startups like Obsidian are dedicated in securing private information exchanges in chats and messengers through blockchain technology and this will help secure metadata of users.
Blockchain is set to disrupt the banking industry. In the past, settlements between banks and merchants could take days. Even after swiping a debit card at a local merchant, customers had to wait for days for the funds to be cleared and verified. With improvements in blockchain technology this processes can take just a few seconds. Even though the current processing speeds on Bitcoin have reduced and transaction fees increased, it is still better than credit card fees. Late in 2017, the transaction fees skyrocketed but have since come down once more. Furthermore, with continued improvements such as use of lightening network, sharding and off-chain state channels could provide useful in facilitating transaction processing. By digitizing payments on secured networks; blockchain can serve 2 billion people worldwide who are unbanked. This is so because with continued advancement on user experinces, all one will need in the near future is access to internet and a smartphone. Since the use of smartphones is on the increase in developing countries, but banking services still lacking in the global south, crypocurrencies present a solution for banking the unbanked.
One of the most important industries in the African society that blockchain is likely to revolutionize is the voting system. For instance, for a long time, there has been serious allegations about the transparency of many election globally, even in USA in 2016. This is not the first time that the parties have forwarded such claims in Africa e.g. Kenya, Uganda. Blockchain technology can be used for voter registration, voter verification, electronic voting process and electronic vote counting to ensure only legitimate votes are counted and none is changed or removed. In order to have free and fair elections, African governments should embrace blockchain technology and create an immutable, publicly ledger of all recorded votes. By so doing there will be no claims of election rigging in future.
Just like in all other industries that require proper record keeping, blockchain can help in safe record keeping in the public sector. For instance vehicle registration and land registration. In Honduras the government has collaborated with Factom on a blockchain program to help them record land ownership. By using the transparent distributed ledger, it will help curb fraud and corruption brought about by the government-controlled centralized registry. For instance, Bitland A new Blockchain-based initiative in West Africa is determined to putting land on the ledger. Its main goal is to provide a permanent and auditable record. Bitland Initiative will ensure that individuals or groups survey land and record the title deeds on the Bitland Blockchain. Bitland other main aim is to work with the government to help solve land disputes in Ghana.
In the energy sector, bitcoin payments can be integrated into smart utility meter reading to enable customers to prepay utility bills digitally. This system is easy to administer and can be of help especially to the unbanked customers.
A large subset of telecommunication industries revolve around KYC, i.e. Know Your Customer. KYC mandates that all institutions must know their customers with the correct matching details in all their systems. The issue with this process is that it creates unnecessary costs and consumes time, and it the sole responsibility of the organization especially telecommunication industries. Currently when you go to buy a new simcard, it is the responsibility of the network provider to verify your details afresh. This makes the process redundant. Instead of each network service provider conducting its own KYC, they can have a third party do it, and this is where blockchain technology comes in. A global system can be created using blockchain, where by all customers information are stored transparently and securely on a public ledger that is distributed among many computers. So once a customer buys a simcard his/her details are recorded and stored permanently such that he does not need to re-verify his details ever again no matter how many simcards he/she goes back to open.
Blockchain technology is shaping the world at large, and whatever industry or sector will embrace it will reap the benefits that come with it.