Have you heard people saying “blockchain is the future”?
You might know or not what blockchain means but let’s start with a simple and clear definition.
Blockchain technology is a digital, distributed transaction ledger with identical copies maintained on each of the network’s members’ computers. All parties can review previous entries and record new ones. Transactions are grouped in blocks, recorded one after the other in a chain of blocks (the ‘blockchain’).
The links between blocks and their content are protected by cryptography, so previous transactions cannot be destroyed or forged. This means that the ledger and the transaction network are trusted without a central authority.
Picture a spreadsheet that is duplicated thousands of times across a network of computers. Then imagine that this network is designed to regularly update this spreadsheet and you have a basic understanding of the blockchain.
It is no doubt the Internet transformed the world. You can send text, video or audio through different channels to someone or a group of people instantly without any approval of a central authority. The Internet enables information to move freely but not values like money.
We still need some central authority or middleman we trust to transfer values or assets from one person to another person. The role of central authority is to verify Identity and record this transaction independently.
For this service we get, we often pay for Financial Institutions, big firms and Government and they are always vulnerable to attack or loss of data not to mention their bureaucracy and usually bad service.
Thanks to blockchain this is not going be the reality anymore. In the book named “Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin and Other Cryptocurrencies Is Changing the World”, It says
“ Now for the first time ever we have a native digital medium for value, through which we can manage, store and transfer any asset — from money and music to votes Stradivarius violins — peer to peer in secure and private way. Trust has achieved not necessarily intermediaries but by cryptography, collaboration, and clever code.
Blockchain Joichi Ito the founder of MIT Media Lab puts it clearly,
“The Blockchain is to trust as the Internet is to information.”
A hype in cryptocurrency especially Bitcoin might have introduced to you the concept of the blockchain. Bitcoin is the first cryptocurrency that is built on and introduced us to blockchain technology. The blockchain is the platform which brings cryptocurrencies into play.
Hence it is important to know the applicability of blockchain is much more many than cryptocurrency (even though the Financial Industry is one of the main industries that will most likely to be disrupted highly with the like of bitcoins).
Have you heard people saying “blockchain is the future”? most likely. I said it too. But now when I think about it, blockchain is actually here and it is already revolutionizing many industries. Next, we will see how blockchain technology is already shifting paradigms in agriculture, government, and environment using few examples.
But one thing is clear, where ever the technology is applied — efficiency, speed, transparency, and immutability are the common characteristics.
Blockchain can be used to safeguard the environment and perhaps contribute to control climate change.
Social Plastic (aka Plastic Bank) is a project that is turning plastic into currency by setting up collection centers in developing countries like Haiti, where people can deposit used plastic in exchange for currency, services like phone charging, or items like cooking fuel. They aim to clean up the world from plastic waste while alleviating poverty.
They are now working on a blockchain-powered app that will allow people to exchange plastic for cryptographic tokens.
The concept of decentralizing which is the core of blockchain technology can even be applicable selling and buying of energy. Today, electric energy is produced by some big companies or government who control the whole supply chain from production to selling. Well, that may not true anymore.
SunContract is a Blockchain-based peer-to-peer energy trading platform for solar and other renewables, who started operating in Slovenia. Using this platform homeowner have the power to select their energy producer and individuals will be able to engage in an exchange of electricity directly with their neighbors and the local community.
Simply, anyone can be able to produce electricity in their home or buy it directly from the people they know. In return, more power will be in the hands of individual buyers and sellers who also usually produce environmentally friendly energies like solar and biomass energy.
In Ethiopia, A coffee brand called Moyee Coffee introduced the firstblockchain-traceable coffee to bring transparency and better profit to farmers. Coffee farmers are getting paid through blockChain, unique in the coffee industry. The company uses the tokenization technology of bext360 which is a traceability SaaS platform that focuses on the critical supply chains such as coffee. Every piece of data in the coffee chain, from harvest to payment, is stored digitally in the blockChain.
At the point of collection from the farmers, the platform instantaneouslycreates crypto tokens, which represents the value of the coffee. As the commodity flows through the entire supply chain, new tokens are automatically created. These tokens increase in value as the coffee beans move through the supply chain.
When a consumer finally buys a pack of coffee, the pack will be bundled with a digital token worth 50 cents which can be used to trace where the tokens go ensuring the farmers achieve profit. With this, a coffee drinker in Europe can pull up this data and verify exactly where their coffee was sourced from as well.
In case you don’t know, Coffee is Native to Ethiopia and it grows freely in plateaus where it was originally found.
Many governments are already using this technology or are studying out how they can use it.
Although blockchain has only become a hot technology in recent years, Estonia has been testing the blockchain technology since 2008.
Since 2012, blockchain has been in production use in Estonia’s data registries,such as the national health, judicial, legislative, security and commercial code systems, with plans to extend its use to other spheres such as personalized medicine, cybersecurity, and data embassies.
It is important to know that this sensitive data is not stored in the blockchain rather blockchain works like a speed camera that detects who has violated the law, when and how.
Due to the fact that data, protected by blockchain technology, is covered with the “digital defense dust”, every change that will happen in the data can be detected because it leaves a trace in the pattern. This helps to protect corruption and misuse.
African Countries governments are as well trying to figure out how they use this technology. Kenyan Government created blockchain taskforces that will study the benefits and challenges associated with blockchain technologies. Last May, IOHK, the company behind the Cardano blockchain, signed a partnership with the government of Ethiopia, to explore how blockchain technology could benefit the country.
In Australia, Civic Ledger, a civic-focused blockchain company, developed water Ledger, based on the public blockchain Ethereum, to the Australian Government. The blockchain-enabled platform provides a means to verify all water trades and update state registries in real time to prove that a water trade has happened, as well as showing the location of the trade
We are seeing blockchain applications all over the world. Health Care, Advertising, Social Media, Music, Gaming, Real estate, Taxation, and Land management are some of the few Industries that we might soon be disrupted. But this by no means there are no challenges. This includes regulatory and scalability issues. We are still far away from mass adoption but it is here, it is impacting and the future is more exciting.