As the Internet developed, it brought along with it technological changes that impacted not only digital experiences but also had lasting real-world application. Online shopping revolutionized how consumers get their products, and now, with the rise of cryptocurrency, more changes are coming. Blockchain applications are the digital equivalent to the now largely obsolete checkbook. The blocks are the multiple transactions, and the chains are the components that link them. Together, this creates an organized system of managing and connecting transactions.
Using these applications, consumers can keep a record of their transactions in chronological order. However, unlike a checkbook, these records are public. Typically, these applications are associated only with Bitcoin (one of the more popular cryptocurrencies), but they have far more potential. Instead, the information is stored in the digital space over the entire network. This means there is no individual who has complete control of the transaction history. For many, this is one of the more exciting aspects of the developing use of blockchains.
Banks rely on trusting each other and meeting contractual obligations before transactions can be completed. What’s more, there is the possibility for the transaction history to be altered to serve the needs of future error. Blockchains eliminate both the need for an agreed trust between multiple parties and the possibility of tampering with past transaction histories.
As the technology becomes more popular, many people are exploring other ways to use blockchains. The innovation behind blockchains extends beyond just simple financial means and has the potential to impact how we live our lives. Below are 25 ways blockchain can be used to enhance our lives.
One of the fears that have persisted since the rise of the Internet and digital world is the chance of identity fraud. This can involve social security numbers being cloned, unauthorized and expensive charges on credit cards and social media accounts being hacked. Unfortunately, using digital connections has a possibility of sensitive and personal information being leaked or accessible to those with ill-intentions. The use of blockchains can help eliminate this threat. The data, though publicly available, is heavily encrypted. This helps prevent scammers and even business marketers from gaining direct access to your information.
The identity forms that can be coded with blockchains is also quite varied. Passports, birth or death certificates and even marriage licenses are among the forms of identification that be digitized for storage and protection. Another reason why blockchain applications are needed is that the digital form of the document, be it a state-issued driver’s license or a social security card, can be accessed from virtually anywhere digital interfaces are available.
There is no longer the fear of carrying your important documents around and running the risk of misplacing them only to begin a lengthy process of recovery.
A further step within blockchain application that builds on better-protected identification is the possibility to reduce voter fraud. Digital voting is a service that should be streamlined and efficient. Unfortunately, with the use of add-on or data mining hacks, information can be altered and the results skewed. Using blockchain application to monitor and regulate this process can lower the fraudulent results. This can be done through the use of blockchain tracking.
One of the more familiar ways people can verify their authenticity and non-bot status is to complete the captcha requirements prior to accessing information. These restrictions are usually in the form of simple text phrases, math equations or picture recognition. Though it has developed over the years, there are still ways to navigate around this and bypass the security feature. Blockchains, however, do not allow for this. The information contained within each block is verifiable as part of the entire chain link.
Verifying the information could be done by anyone as each block has a timestamp and can be confirmed, but not edited. As part of the record tracking aspect, each vote would be associated with a block that could be further researched in order to gain more general information about the voters.
Anyone who has a mailbox has experienced collecting and throwing away stacks of papers that range from bills to local advertisements. There is also a high cost associated with the energy needed to create and disperse these flyers or letters. Blockchain applications can help reduce this waste because the transaction history is stored digitally. Other aspects like tapping into alternative energy sources are also possible using blockchains.
The application Brooklyn Microgrid allows those who own solar panels to offer environmental credits for sale. These credits then allow the buyers access to using solar-powered energy, which is a cleaner and more sustainable alternative to the current carbon-based methods. On a grander scale, this model could be used to reroute the costs of energy into sustainable option research.
Additionally, areas like pollution monitoring and organic food channels could be regulated more efficiently. Because blockchains are essentially records that cannot be easily tampered with, it would be possible to track a product’s journey from manufacturer to consumer. This creates a higher level of transparency in the supply-chain. Reducing an individual’s carbon footprint is a step toward a cleaner environment with more sustainable energy and foods.
It might be a shocking idea to reconcile, but there is corruption surrounding some charitable organizations, both the obscure and well-known. This is a result of a lack of transparency as to what exactly happens to funds once they’ve been donated. Paper trails can be changed, and documents can be created that make the organizations look honorable. Understandably, handling large amounts of money that comes from different sources and must be spread out in different increments can be a difficult process. However, there are those who would exploit the gaps that occur when paperwork is lost, or there is a miscommunication.
Depending on what the funds are allocated for, they can be divided into subgroups and shifted around, oftentimes being misspent on personal investments. This is known as a fund leak, where the funds either disappear or are misused. Blockchain applications can help improve this situation by being a well-organized and well-maintained record of the funds, from the first donations all the way to the final use.
It will also help keep these companies accountable. Rather than having to explain what happened, they can simply point to the blockchain evidence to show a clearly defined path that the funds traveled on.
On a daily basis, we use different pieces of technology to help us accomplish certain tasks. Barring specific uses, most of them share the same goal of being a means to access the internet. Tablets, phones, and laptops all have multiple uses but being online is one of the more essential elements. With the advancement of blockchain applications, the Internet of Things (IoT) is also developing.
The concept of the Internet of Things revolves around using your technology products not only for connecting to the internet but also connecting them to each other. For example, rather than being caught off guard in the middle of a print job that you’re out of ink, your printer will have the power to automatically order replacement cartridges once certain levels are reached.
This can also be applied to starting other appliances, like a coffee maker or oven. These connections are possible because of blockchain technology and how the links are created to preserve data, settings and stimulate automation. While there are already some inklings of this technology being used (like a speaker system that is similar to a virtual assistant), blockchains will make it more accessible and not restricted to one company.
Crowdsourcing has become a great way to collect funds from the general public and use it for a specific goal or cause. They offer a chance for indie or smaller companies to work toward bigger ideas that would be otherwise impossible because they do not have the financial freedom to explore new avenues. By accepting cryptocurrencies and using blockchain applications, these small businesses can create an easily verified way to collect money.
There is also a greater benefit to choosing their own blockchain methods over popular crowdsourcing options like GoFundMe or Kickstarter. The percentages that get lost in paying for those sources can be instead used by the company. And though the majority of fundraisers using those types of site have been honest, there have been times when a company or artist did not meet the expectations of their contributors.
Unfortunately, for some, their donations cannot be recovered nor can they be accounted for. Blockchain use of cryptocurrency makes it far easier to track the money as well as making it easier for donors to give. For those who want to contribute but have reservation about sharing credit card or other financial information, blockchain donation allows for a safe, more encrypted alternative.
Whether it’s shopping online or going into physical stores, there have been multiple times where consumers sought out a specific item only to find that it is either out of stock or discontinued. Even worse is when store inventories are checked and claim the product is available but that information cannot be verified. This is just one example of how blockchain information technology can advance supply chain inventory.
Supply chains typically use sensors that track their inventory regardless of location. These sensors are also responsible for altering the companies to any change in the product’s condition. From the initial warehouse throughout transit and delivery to stores (or doorsteps), the inventory is recorded. But there are mistakes whether based on human or technical error.
Perhaps a box thought to have been loaded was left at a warehouse across the country or maybe the online stockroom was not updated in time. Blockchain application would help limit the number of mistakes associated with shipping. As the products are updated, there is a digital log that can prevent miscounting or mislabeling of items. Additionally, if something went missing, the history of its movement could be tracked. This is a great benefit to both the companies and the consumers.
Financial responsibility and growth is an area that impacts most of the workforce. But keeping track of all the ins and outs of financial information can be an overwhelming task for many. There is the option to hire an accountant, but even that introduces its own problems. Blockchain applications can help alleviate financial mismanagement and not just for large corporations. Individuals can also make use of this technology to organize their money and create a strong system of records.
There is also the matter of what currency you choose to make your investments in. Blockchains operate with digital currency, and there are companies who are addressing the bridge that and real-world money. Swissborg, for example, is a company that has begun producing their own currency in the form of tokens for their investors to use.
There are also investors, who can also be part of a DAO (decentralized autonomous organization) to build and manage their wealth without the restrictions typically associated with either government organizations or centralized banking institutions. Swissborg is one of the many companies developing to meet the needs of customers who have money and want a safe way to build it without limitations.
The process to buy a house is largely different from most other consumer purchases. Unlike most shopping where there are really only two parties (the buyer and the seller), real estate ventures involve multiple teams on both sides before and after the transaction is finalized. There are sites where a prospective homeowner can enlist the help of a realtor, who in turn has an entire office behind them including underwriters, loan agents, inspectors and possibly construction companies. During the process of securing a home, all of these people must be paid for their services.
Having bank agents look into the history of the home and draft contracts costs. Because there are so many people involved, mistakes are common. Using blockchain applications can help make this process easier. Time and cost can be reduced because the data will be recorded efficiently and with transparency. Even the listings being posted on the real estate sites could benefit from blockchain use.
Previous owners, renovation projects and maybe even rental information could all be stored and accessible. It will also be much harder, with the information secured and readily available, for there to be lengthy dispute on either land ownership or rent payments.
Of the many grievances surrounding the healthcare market, ranging from what qualifies as a preexisting condition or the rising costs of basic care, one thing that plagues patients and hospitals alike is the paperwork. Each doctor visit necessitates the pulling of a patient’s record to ensure the best treatment. It is also needed to avoid repeating the same failed procedures. In addition to being necessary for patient care, almost more importantly, the paperwork is needed to track and approve or reject any financial decisions associated with the visits.
Whether or not your cleaning is covered by your insurance can be an answer lost under mounds of paperwork and being transferred on calls. It can make a stressful situation even more taxing. By consolidating the information with blockchains, hospital visits and procedures can become smoother. Rather than trying to coordinate phone calls or emails to find out information, clinicians can simply pull it up.
Additionally, patients can authorize who has access to their encrypted data. This can help expedite procedures where a patient is unable to consent directly. Even research can be done using blockchain information, as it is mostly anonymous so long as the proper care is taken to ensure confidentiality.
MP3s became popular in the early 2000s and completely changed how music was listened to and most importantly, distributed. No longer tasked with having to carry heavy music players or CDs, consumers got to enjoy their music in more versatile areas. There was also a decrease in the reliance on the radio or music television to wait to hear a song. But this additional freedom brought with it a host of problems. MP3s and other digital music formats allow users to have access to single songs, unlike previous formats that were collections of songs. So if one person wanted to share a single song, they could do so.
The problem with this is that often times only one person paid for the content. Other times, the music was pirated altogether, and no one paid for it though it was being shared. The focus shifted from ownership rights to monetizing productions and blockchain use can help make this a more concrete way to manage music. By using the digital sphere as a host and database for all music, the content can still be accessible but also allow for artists to receive royalties and other payments.
The Cloud has emerged as a fantastic option that allows users to access their data from any machine, not just their home or specific work PCs. The Cloud has allowed meetings to happen across the globe as well as saving important documents like family photos. But there are still security problems associated with the storage service that makes many wary of using it. Choosing to use the Cloud is also making a choice to completely trust any of the companies offer the service with highly sensitive information.
There have been instances of the Cloud being hacked and data that was thought to be safe being accessed by hackers. Increased data encryption and protection is not the only benefit to using blockchains for digital storage. As the number of Cloud users expands and they increase the amount of data, eventually the data hosting servers will also need to expand in order to meet all of the demand while still maintaining quality.
This expansion will likely come at the cost of the users and access to the Cloud will have a higher price tag. This vulnerability to both pricing and access to information can be addressed with blockchains.
One thing the internet has done is connect people across the planet for social and business relationships. For business, in particular, the conversion rates of currencies still fluctuate on a daily basis. There is also the matter of international customs and what each country charges to have good entering their countries. Taxes sometimes vary even in different zip codes of the same city, and that can affect the costs of goods and services. On the current system, which involves converting money into different currencies and routing through multiple banks, it takes a minimum of at least two business days for orders and financial information to process.
Besides being slow and cumbersome, this process is easily manipulated to allow for illegal transactions. A scammer might cash a fraudulent check and get the funds long before the bank catches the error and can stop the payment. But there are already some progressive financial companies willing to take the risk and seeing the benefits of using blockchains.
Companies like Bitspark and Align Commerce use blockchain to offer their customers remittance services. This allows the money to be transmitted quickly, safely and securely without country or region restrictions.
Insurance claims are not limited only to medical use. Life insurance, home and renter’s insurance as well as car insurance are all important aspects of consumer life. Each of these areas has their own specific requirements for paperwork and methods for verifying identity, processing payments and making claims. Insurance processors must sort through the paperwork and navigate the obstacles before moving forward. Policy abandonment, change of address, fragmented data and simply misunderstood communication are among some of the things that contribute to errors in insurance processing.
Verifying information can also be a long process that involves multiple offices trying to coordinate in order to get an accurate representation of the data. Firstly, blockchain format will help with basic organization of policies, their holders, and other general information. Secondly, using this avenue allows for transparent operation and honesty. The data will have a record of who has control of the policy, when it was made active or when it defaulted as well as other pertinent information.
By having strongly encrypted and cataloged data, the insurers will also be relieved of some of the risk-management involved with taking certain cases. Their integrity will not be challenged as they can use the data as evidence when approving or denying a claim.
Even before destinations or dates are finalized, making travel arrangements can be problematic. If travel is happening in a country with a different language, that can cause further headache. Navigating travel sites or using agents can create even more confusion. But as cryptocurrency develops, more and more companies are accepting it as means of payment for travel-related expenses. Cheapair.com is a travel agency that accepts Bitcoin for purchasing hotels, cruises, flights and even car rentals. The benefit to doing this is that the company gets an accurate and secure method of payment. This saves the company any time and costs associated with having to make multiple attempts to secure payment.
On the other hand, the customers do not have to worry about their credit cards being overcharged or their personal information being leaked. But beyond the actual modes of travel, there are retailers who accept the currency in their storefronts. This means that travelers do not have to worry about carrying cash, cards or traveler’s checks and running of the risk of either losing them or having them stolen. This has the potential to make traveling more enjoyable as the risk of identity and financial theft can be lessened.
There are many who believe that the internet should be accessible to virtually anyone with the technology and will to use it. However, the multiple ISPs (Internet service providers) have different levels of access depending on not only how much customers are willing to pay but also where they live. In metropolitan areas, it’s fairly easy to access fiber optic or broadband internet. But in more rural areas, satellites are still needed.
Still, certain areas like streaming speed and hosting servers are controlled by very specific corporations. Further introduction and usage of blockchains will allow for a better and decentralized internet. Essentially, access to the internet will change, and it will not belong to any one entity.
Using blockchain encryption will push the internet past the reaches of net neutrality. Net neutrality is the protection of the internet from corporations that wish to capitalize on higher data usage by charging customers more for what they already use. The decentralized platforms will assist in distributing all the possibilities and functions that the internet can provide. This will help make the internet better overall as it will make it slightly more organized and protect the information of its users with increased proficiency.
While most people are unaware of the consequences, it can be seen in the types of ads being shown and what products are marketed during the online experience. For example, searching for specific furniture will result in banner ads on the sides of social media pages with the same furniture being shown.
By using blockchain data encryption, users can choose what aspects of their identity are allowed to be seen by the public and by companies. For example, interests in specific lifestyles or locations can be filtered into a private protocol so as to avoid any related ad content. Additionally, because blockchain content is not limited to specific machines, users can control where and how much of their information is shared.
The advancements of cryptocurrency is happening almost concurrently with the improved features and availability of augmented or virtual reality platforms. As the cryptocurrency is also digital, it is a perfect complement to the advancement of digital interactive environments. Fully immersive virtual games are becoming more popular now that the technology has advanced enough to offer truly unique experiences that stimulate the senses. But online gaming is no longer a new area of technology.
For years, players have been able to interact with one another and even use real money to purchase in-game items. The problem with this is that it requires the exposure of sensitive card information and sometimes even the address of where the player lives. The major gaming companies like Sony and Microsoft that are responsible for maintaining the security of this stored information has been susceptible to cyber-attack.
Blockchain use would reduce the possibility of such an information getting attack. It would also make in-game transactions easier and more seamless with the augmented reality atmosphere. Gameplay would not need to be interrupted for the sake of getting paid and verifying identity and authorization. Rather, all that information will be saved within the blockchain prior to it being used.
How governments actually operate is not common knowledge to a state or nation’s voting public. During campaigns, political candidates will make many promises and layout prospective goals for their terms. These actions are meant to create a strong showing of support. With social media and society’s new obsession with recording and saving interviews, it can be easy to prove when something was or wasn’t said. Or so you’d think. Editing can be used to change the tone or message behind a politician’s speech.
By utilizing blockchain’s ability to record data that cannot be tampered with, politicians can be held to a higher standard. Smart contracts can also make an impact by directly linking an electorate’s wages with meeting the objectives of his electors. This means less leniency given based on the number of financial donations received. Instead of serving the needs of monetary contributors, elected officials will have more reason to serve those who voted.
These contracts can also be used as a way to track the way an official is choosing to address a public issue and used as evidence regarding the intent to actively work towards solutions.
Online shopping has exploded in popularity over the last few decades. What was once reserved for the brave and slightly well-off has now become more commonplace. On sites like Amazon or Alibaba, the currency being used to make purchases must match the currency of the IP address associated with the machine being accessed. Another obstacle to the online market surrounds the selling of used items.
Reselling can be a means to move stolen or questionably acquired goods. Some sellers may even present their articles with being pure versions of an item despite having no certificates of authenticity. Because the product information is dependent on the seller’s input, it can be hard to know whether or not something is truly authentic.
A blockchain can provide proof of ownership and also a record of each stop a product has made. In conjunction, its use can help lead to a decentralized market that is not reliant on central banking authorities. Rather than only accepting a certain type of credit cards, these markets can exchange only cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin. Not only will this makes shopping easier, it will also eliminate data sharing and processing with third-party companies.
Big businesses operate by making goods and providing services at the lowest possible cost to the company. At times, this means stretching a rule or trying to work around a required condition in order to keep terms low. Despite legislations that dictate how a business should operate under fair conditions, there are some companies that skirt by. But blockchain ledgers can assist in making sure fair practices are being followed.
Companies that engage in unethical business practices can be held accountable as the data will be recorded for investigation. The food industry, specifically, can benefit from the use of blockchain to track goods from farmer to store. Some industries, like the fishing industry, have a notorious reputation for illegal practices and unsavory methods of getting their products.
While there is no guarantee that blockchain will lead to an end of these illegal activities, it can definitely shed light on the issue and allow consumers be more informed about the sources of their goods. With more information, consumers can make better choices on how they spend their money. The scrutiny of having unfavorable practices recorded and widely available in a public sphere might be the catalyst needed to help revitalize and restructure better business practices.
It might seem strange that a tool that relies heavily on anonymity like blockchains could help develop a stronger sense of community. However, the anonymity is not really a problem when it comes to community building. The involved users can choose to share only certain parts of their information—those aspects that can help their surroundings. Blockchain usage allows for autonomy. This means that any group, ranging from a neighborhood watch to large companies can create platforms that are self-guided.
Local schools can also use this as a means to communicate and share information to ensure that all the students of the district are getting the same quality and consistent information. What is considered a neighborhood also does not have to be limited to areas within driving distance. Blockchain information is shared in a space almost like the Cloud, so anyone who can access that information can be part of the community. This is quite similar to the setup of the internet in modern times.
The key difference is how the data is tracked. It will be hard for identity to be falsified using blockchains because each entry is logged and given an approximate timestamp.
Despite all of the social aspects of the internet, it is still largely a single user experience. It is not necessary to talk to the other users or leave comments on photos or videos. A user can simply interact with the content and move on. For some areas, like videos or ads, which are driven by click revenue and short interaction, this is fine. However, for other content, like digital publishing, user interaction is needed in order to stay relevant.
Information that goes viral will be shared and kept at the forefront of the public consciousness. However, being relevant to users who have immense amounts of content at their fingertips requires more engagement. This is why some publishers have begun using blockchain and cryptocurrency to not only bring in but also retain readership and ad providers.
There are forms of currency known as Engagement Tokens that are being used to reward readers for interacting with a site. These tokens can also be earned by advertisers, who can then use their earned amounts to buy valuable ad-space so long as the ad is relevant to the content. The blockchain can then track which ads get the best engagement.
The ways students (or their parents) have paid for higher education has typically followed the pattern of most other purchases. The main difference, however, is that cash is usually not accepted because of the high costs associated with university services and how unsafe it would be to carry large amounts of money around. This is one aspect that makes blockchain and cryptocurrency use more practical than traditional tender. Regardless of the amount needing to be paid, if it’s stored in a blockchain, it can be moved without restriction.
Universities have begun accepting blockchain payments for tuition, primarily in Europe. ESMT Berlin in Germany began accepting the currency in late 2016. The Lucerne University of Switzerland also accepts cryptocurrencies and suggests that blockchain model is a developing method in sharing information and also in getting practical experience using it.
Perhaps because blockchain is an emerging product, the universities that do accept them are choosing to outsource the management of the data. Blockchain is also still fairly unfamiliar to most university students, but it’s likely that as it becomes more well-known, more schools will allow the option to pay with it.
As it is now, many users believe that their information is secure and stored privately only for their eyes. In actuality, that data can be accessed through the use of hacking and data mining techniques. Similarly, once shared, that data can be released to the public by another party, whether intentional or not. Even though some users may make heavy use of emoticons or develop their own language, outside eyes could still gain access to it. There are even software programs designed to help decipher coded messages.
Communicating via blockchain can really improve the security and privacy of online messaging. The encrypted data can help make users feel more at ease. This medium can also have further options for limiting accessibility. For example, while the encrypted data is available in the digital space, the data can be stored on multiple machines.
Furthermore, the data can have additional protection added to by the user requiring a key to access it. This will allow the contents to be restricted to only a selected few, which ensures privacy. Blockchain also has access logs so that the users will be able to monitor and be aware of who is accessing their communications.
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