Blockchain is known for its role in the evolution of cryptocurrencies. However, it is also having a huge impact on other fields. Many businesses and governments are making use of it.
Blockchain is Changing the World!
Thirteen years ago, the world got its first glimpse of what would soon become a worldwide phenomenon: Bitcoin. In the years since then, it’s undeniable that the grandfather of cryptocurrencies has established itself as a financial force to be reckoned with. But even today, the business world is still seemingly in no rush to embrace cryptocurrencies and everything they stand for.
But what they have embraced — and continue to embrace — is the blockchain, which is the technology that makes cryptocurrencies tick. It’s a type of secure digital ledger that underpins cryptocurrencies, keeping track of transactions and performing the nuts-and-bolts work needed to make them useful. And it turns out that blockchain technology was a good fit for use in a variety of other industries as well.
That said, it’s still hard to spot some of the visible impacts that blockchain has had on major industries since they started experimenting with its use. Some of that is because businesses don’t tend to advertise the technologies they’re using to run their operations. And yet, an astounding 81 of the top 100 public companies are known to be using blockchain technology today. Here are a few of the disparate ways blockchain is being put to use.
Supply Chain Solutions
One of the places where blockchain made early inroads and has continued to make gains is within the global supply chain. Early on, shipping conglomerate Maersk and tech giant IBM came together to create TradeLens, a global blockchain-based cargo logistics platform. Today, that platform, and others like it, play a huge role in the global supply chain, with TradeLens alone in use by over 300 firms operating in over 600 ports worldwide. Among other things, the transparent nature of blockchain is helping shippers provide up-to-the-minute data to retailers for use in their inventory management planning.
Human Resources Management
Although the field of human resources doesn’t seem like a natural match for blockchain technology, it’s having a huge impact within it anyway. It’s being used in a variety of ways, most notably within the recruiting functions of some well-known firms. Companies are putting it to use to validate candidate credentials and to store data about employees already on payrolls. And some firms are beginning to use blockchain as a secure data storage backend when they have employee tracker technology and other employee analytics systems in use. As a solution, blockchain can serve as a platform-agnostic way of securing employee data while keeping it accessible to HR personnel at all times.
Digital Identification Systems
In perhaps the most important example of blockchain’s applications outside of the financial sphere, it’s being used to enable a new generation of digital identity verification systems. Already, countries like Estonia have blockchain-based identity systems up and running, and others, like Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Finland are exploring similar solutions. And on top of that, a variety of digital identity providers are using blockchain to create systems that offer self-sovereign identity to offer individuals a means of identification that’s portable across borders, businesses, and systems. In that way, blockchain is taking the role of identity verification away from governments just as it’s enabling currencies that are unmoored from government backing and control.
Although cryptocurrencies get the lion’s share of attention where blockchain’s concerned, they’re by no means its only use case. On the contrary, you could argue that blockchain technology has made inroads into industry far faster than cryptocurrencies have gained mainstream acceptance. It’s happened so fast that blockchain-based products and systems are now all around us — if not in immediately obvious ways — and are continuing to grow. And in the end, it may turn out that blockchain will have a much bigger impact than the cryptocurrencies that ushered in its use. And wouldn’t that be something?