With Blockchain being the hot topic in banking and finance, it’s easy to not realize the implications of this game changing technology across various industries. With that being said, here are five industries you may not have thought of.
1. Shipping and Logistics
I mentioned in a previous article that the logistics industry is ripe for a major change. The public ledger could completely overhaul the industry by adding far more transparency and accountability than is currently in place. It could potentially unify the industry across one major standard of work. The potential to cut out middlemen and validate trust along each step will be a massive change. For instance, with the opiate crisis running rampant, pharmaceutical supply chains have come under heavy regulatory scrutiny.
People operating within the drug supply chain often are a link to many of the leaks of product but have proven difficult to track down and hold accountable. End-to-end transaction and hand-off monitoring has largely been done in privatized methods through specialized supply chain companies, but with wholesalers, manufacturers, logistics companies and several other people between the process to the consumer, transparency can be lost.
Blockchain allows us to publicly verify every hand-off of product from end-to-end, and because it’s encrypted, it adds a level of accountability that can be monitored publicly and by regulators. Regulators can be involved in the platform, smart contracts can be issued from end-to-end that only validate on successful completion of delivery.
2. Manufacturing and Food Production
Currently, manufacturers and food producers track lots of product that may include hundreds of thousands of units, making issues with product quality and recalls difficult to pinpoint. Using a blockchain, we can utilize highly granular tracking, right down to the individual units that were produced. This will allow for a far more detailed picture of quality control and better tracking than ever before. Recalls can be better identified and pulled faster, as product can be traced to each store much faster.
Every election cycle in the United States nowadays seems to have complaints about voter fraud, regardless of whether the system is electronic or paper ballots. Blockchain will allow for voter registration to be stored on the public ledger, but encrypted to protect the identity of voters. This will allow for public checks and balances in the voting process at each polling place remotely and in real time. This in turn will prevent duplicate voting or other forms of fraud. This also helps resolve the question of voter ID and prevents discrimination.
Government also can add accountability checks in the benefits process and effectively digitize any benefits programs including Social Security, Medicare, etc. This adds a layer of accountability on the government side while maintaining recipient privacy. It also allows payments to take place on the blockchain at a lower cost.
A common problem people have with donating to charities is uncertainty. Where is their money really going? Third party rating agencies such as Charity Navigator try to provide insight, but problems still arise. Public tracking of all individual donations would be made possible through the blockchain, using visible wallets to ensure that payments are being sent where they are supposed to go. Moreover, the percentage of funds going to the actual cause is validated. All charities have administrative expenses, it’s to be expected—but tracking where those expenses are going will give greater confidence to donors and will help weed out any bad apples.
5. Real Estate
Real estate transactions, both residential and commercial, are extremely complicated and require teams of attorneys to verify things every step of the way. They also handle escrow to facilitate the transfer of funds when conditions are met. Smart contracts on the blockchain will be able to act as an escrow and remove the need for expensive services. Funds would be released at each step of smart contract validation, including tying into electronic signature services and even handling automated title transfers. Listings and competitors to the MLS may eventually move to being based on the blockchain to decentralize the process, add transparency, and allow more room for sellers to represent themselves even without the traditional commissions of 6%, saving money every step of the way.
We are at the beginning of a major change in technology that is akin to when the Internet first started gaining mass appeal in the mid to late 1990’s. It’s exciting to see what will come next with new startups being announced daily.