There’s no question that blockchain technology is already making a significant impact on how information is accessed, stored and shared. In fact, it’s already disrupting certain industries, including financial services, social media and energy. And with experts predicting full consumer adoption by the year 2025, it’s becoming clearer by the day that this technology will also begin changing the way we live.
If you’re not yet familiar, blockchains (as their name suggests) are chains of blocks, each of which represents information in the form of a transaction, record, etc. The blocks are securely linked together through very strong cryptography or encryption. In much the same way that the internet has infiltrated nearly every aspect of our lives, blockchain is poised to make a similar impact. Let’s take a look at a few of the specific areas in which blockchain technology will begin to play a more influential role.
The healthcare industry is worth a sizeable portion of the US GDP, but the existing technology being used to power it is surprisingly inept, particularly in terms of record keeping. Not only is information disorganized and therefore difficult to access, but efficiently sharing data across platforms is nearly impossible.
Blockchain networks are already being developed to help streamline this process by enabling users to securely upload their personal healthcare information into one centralized ledger where providers can seamlessly access complete medical histories for optimal treatment. This would also provide unprecedented access to confidential, accurate, anonymous mass data for research purposes.
Even the health and wellness monitoring devices we use every day, such as fitness trackers, can benefit from blockchain technology, as it will facilitate better communication with databases and faster, easier information updates to be drawn upon as needed.
For tech-averse people, the concept of using cryptocurrencies in everyday transactions isn’t exactly a shoo-in. Some blockchain-based startups, however, are working hard to change this by connecting traditional payment methods, such as credit cards, with cryptocurrencies. So, not only can consumers use their normal payment methods to spend cryptocurrencies, but retailers can now begin accepting these alternative currencies as payment for goods or services.
Customer service is another area where blockchain technology will infiltrate our day to day lives. For example, through the use of blockchain-powered smart contracts, consumers will be able to initiate claims and settle conflicts without the need for excessive documentation. That’s because all necessary documents – such as receipts and warranty paperwork – will be stored in a digital ledger for easy access on-demand.
Lastly, blockchain has the potential to dramatically improve the inventory management and logistics process. Records of any event or sequence of events can be easily maintained, including everything from product purchase details to shipping logs to quantity tracking and more. Because recorded data cannot be altered, it eliminates the risk of data manipulation. With accurate digital records of every single item, retailers can better manage their inventory based on reliable, real-time data.
These days, computers do everything, from trading stocks to driving cars. It’s no surprise, then, that some visionaries are starting to leverage blockchain technology to augment human creativity. Some startups are using smart contracts to better track and disseminate licensing agreements in an attempt to combat the costly practice of unlawful downloads and file sharing. This will make the entertainment industry fairer and therefore more profitable, which will in turn attract a new wave of talented artists.
From a consumer standpoint, blockchain will facilitate easier and more seamless access to content. Unlike today’s streaming services, such as Netflix and Spotify, which are closed to protect rights of ownership, it will no longer be necessary to use a particular platform’s video or audio player to access the movies, shows or music you want. That’s because blockchain enables sophisticated permissions tracking.
Without question, blockchain technology is poised to make a significant impact on otherwise human-driven industries and the three examples above are likely just the tip of the iceberg. As blockchain proves to be profitable and beneficial to all parties involved, it will only continue to grow and proliferate in other areas of our lives.