The Continuous Disruptive Effect of Blockchain Technology on Industries

At the end of 2017 everyone was talking about Blockchain Technology. According to many it was going to be the next big revolution, and everyone was investing in it. This was because of the many success stories that were presented in the media. People turned a small investment into millions in a matter of months.  Of course, many people wanted to become a part of this growing concept. So people started investing everywhere and the crypto market grew to incredible heights. But in the beginning of 2018 it all turned around. The market collapsed and people lost a lot of money. Some currencies lost more than 95% of their value, whilst others even pulled an exit scam leaving people with nothing. This put blockchain technology in a bad light, and since the media gave this downfall a lot of attention people lost their faith in blockchain technology and started seeing it as a scam. 

This was partly right though. Because people saw that you could make a lot of money from cryptocurrency it attracted entrepreneurs with malicious intent. They build fake projects and convinced regular people to invest into it. When they felt that they had enough money they disappeared never to be heard again from. Since crypto is an unregulated currency people could do nothing against this and most people got away after these scams. One of the most famous examples of this is the Bitconnect scam, before disappearing Bitconnect had a value of 2,6 billion dollars [2].  

But this also had effect on a lot of projects that were actually doing good work. Crypto was being generalized as a scam whilst many projects had actual use cases that were being implemented by companies. The media stopped covering these stories and good projects were pulled out of the spotlights. However, these initiators continued working hard into making their project a success. Since 2018 a lot of blockchain technology projects have made a lot of progress to revolutionize certain industries. Also, large multinational companies have kept investing in and working on Blockchain Technology to improve their future business. This article will highlight a few industries that are, right now, being revolutionized by Blockchain Technology. This article will not explain how blockchain technology works. If you want to know more about blockchain technology I recommend reading the following article [2].

The Supply Chain Industry

Nowadays consumers care more and more about where their products come from. This awareness is a trend that will most likely continue to grow even further in the future. Because of this, companies want to make their supply chain story transparent to increase the trust from their customers. Blockchain technology is a perfect tool for this. To show this I will use the example of My Story. My Story is a project set up by VeChain in collaboration with DNV GL. DNV GL is an international accredited registrar with more than 14,500 employees, operating from over 100 countries. VeChain is a blockchain technology platform which focuses mainly on the logistics industry. 

My Story shows the entire history of a product when the consumer checks the NFC tag from a certain product. Going all the way back, for instance, to the grapes that were used for a wine bottle. Since, every step of the product will be registered and stored on the blockchain. This way all the information will be irreversible. To go back to the example of the grapes used for the wine. When these grapes are made into wine and put in a bottle, the winemaker will seal the bottle with an NFC tag and store this info onto the blockchain. The wine will then be supplied towards different vendors. Every step of the way towards the vendor will have to be registered on the blockchain. By scanning the NFC tag at the checkpoints and continue scanning throughout the process until the consumer opens a bottle and the seal is broken, this can be achieved. Breaking the seal will then be the last step registered on the blockchain. When people scan the NFC tag they will see every step of the bottle until that point. So, when the consumer scans the bottle he can see where the bottle has been, and if the seal has been previously broken. If any of this information is incorrect the consumer will know that the bottle is a bad product, which results in the consumer losing trust in the brand. Meaning that companies have a big incentive to make their supply chain as correct and transparent as possible since losing the trust from consumers can be devastating [3].

In this example I used wine bottles. But as you can imagine there are many use cases in which transparency of the supply chain is very important to gain trust from consumers, thus increasing sales. This is the main reason why many companies are making use of blockchain technology to increase their image in the future. 

Reducing the Carbon Footprint

Reducing the carbon footprint actually goes hand in hand with the previously discussed supply chain industry. In the past few years people have become more aware on their impact on the environment. Besides storing the supply chain information on the blockchain companies can also store the amount of carbon emission that came free during the whole process on the blockchain. This way consumers can see the actual carbon footprint a product has when they want to buy it. When the carbon footprint is small it can have a positive influence on their willingness to buy the item [8].

Since this is a relatively new use case for blockchain technology people are constantly looking for more ways of reducing the carbon footprint by using blockchain technology. Other possible use cases are for instance making people more aware of their own carbon footprint while travelling. When people are more aware about their carbon footprint while travelling, they could alter their ways of travelling to more eco friendly ways  [8].

Digital Identity

Another trend in society from the past few years is the need for privacy. Since everything is connected nowadays data is easily being spread over the whole world. This also includes private data from people. Even though this is not always a bad thing it is sometimes used for malicious intent. People have fallen victim to, for instance, identity theft, blackmail, or online theft. Blockchain technology is able to help protect sensitive data from individuals. Blockchain technology makes use of private and public key encryption. With the help of this encryption people could store their sensitive data on the blockchain and only share this data with whoever they want to. This way people that shouldn’t obtain this data can no longer find it since it will be encrypted by the owner of the data. If this data does get leaked somehow, the owner of the data will know who has access towards his or her data and can act accordingly. To summarize, people will have better control over their online identity making it easier to keep private data private [7]

Healthcare

Blockchain technology can also be used in the healthcare industry. As of now research is being done about how this will work exactly. This is of course very important in the healthcare industry as data here is often very sensitive [2]. One of the popular ways of using blockchain technology in the healthcare industry is the management of Electronic Medical Records from patients. The way this works is that all patients are in charge of the key management of their own medical record. This way they can manage who they share this data with. This way of document encryption can be compared to the previously mentioned part of digital identity [5]

There are a few use cases already securing their electronic medical records with the help of blockchain technology. The biggest example of this is Guardtime in Estonia. Guardtime was founded in 2007 and is currently protecting more that one million medical records with the help of blockchain technology. According to Guardtime, they provide blockchain technology solutions for the following 5 points [6]. 

  • Intelligent data visibility and liquidity management
  • Decentralised data access for outcome based contracting
  • Managing pharma supply-chain accountability and visibility
  • Innovative clinical trials patient recruitment, follow-up and data management
  • Managing care quality with digital infrastructure

Looking at this we can see that Guardtime not only uses blockchain technology for management of the electronic medical records, but also for the supply chain of the pharma industry in Estonia. So as we can see blockchain technology is able to improve the healthcare industry a lot [6]

Intellectual Property

Intellectual property is currently one of the biggest assets for businesses to become successful since a lot of businesses now get their value from intangible assets. So, managing your intellectual properties is a very important factor. Which blockchain technology can help with to exploit this value. By registering intellectual property on the blockchain, the owner of the intellectual property will be undisputed and easily visible to everyone [1]. According to EY, blockchain technology will handle the development of intellectual property across three phases of the life cycle [4]. 

  • Tokens to present the good or asset
  • Tracking services and contributions to intellectual property development 
  • A platform to manage the sale, licensing, contracting and exploitation of intellectual property

This would result, according to EY, in the following benefits for rights and royalties management [4]. 

  • Better management of intangible assets that are provably unique
  • Reduced transaction friction via a peer-to-peer network
  • Improved partner relationships on a transparent ledger

So once again there are many different ways that blockchain technology is changing this industry [4].

Conclusion

To conclude, blockchain technology is here to stay. Even though it hasn’t been in the spotlights for the last 2 years it is still disrupting many industries. Here we only showed a couple of examples but there are many more use cases. However, blockchain technology will need to develop a lot to be ready for mass adoption. For now, it is still too early for most companies to really make use of blockchain technology due to its uncertainty. But blockchain technology will continue to develop itself in the coming years and mass adoption will follow alongside with all the benefits that blockchain technology offers. 

 

Bibliography

  1. Asselot, P. (n.d.). In a Nutshell: Blockchain and IP | European IP Helpdesk. Retrieved April 16, 2020, from http://iprhelpdesk.eu/ip-highlights/ip-special-blockchain/blockchain-in-a-nutshell
  2. Blockgeeks. (2019). Blockchain in healthcare: The Ultimate use case? Retrieved April 8, 2020, from https://blockgeeks.com/guides/blockchain-in-healthcare/
  3. DNV GL. (n.d.). My StoryTM – A blockchain-powered digital assurance solution. Retrieved April 8, 2020, from https://www.dnvgl.com/services/my-story-a-blockchain-powered-digital-assurance-solution-141277
  4. EY (2019, June 18). How blockchain can impact the intellectual property life cycle. Retrieved April 16, 2020, from https://www.ey.com/en_eg/advisory/how-blockchain-can-impact-the-intellectual-property-life-cycle
  5. Gordon, W. J., & Catalini, C. (2018). Blockchain Technology for Healthcare: Facilitating the Transition to Patient-Driven Interoperability. Computational and Structural Biotechnology Journal, 16, 224–230. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.csbj.2018.06.003
  6. Guardtime. (2019). Guardtime Health (whitepaper). Retrieved from https://m.guardtime.com/files/Guardtime_whitepaper_A4_april_web.pdf
  7. Jacobovitz, O. (2016). Blockchain for Identity Management (Technical Report #16-02). Retrieved from https://www.cs.bgu.ac.il/~frankel/TechnicalReports/2016/16-02.pdf
  8. Liu, K.-H., Chang, S.-F., Huang, W.-H., & Lu, I.-C. (2019). The Framework of the Integration of Carbon Footprint and Blockchain: Using Blockchain as a Carbon Emission Management Tool. Technologies and Eco-Innovation towards Sustainability , 15–22. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-13-1181-9_2
  9. Mix. (2018, January 17). How BitConnect pulled the biggest exit scheme in cryptocurrency. Retrieved April 6, 2020, from https://thenextweb.com/hardfork/2018/01/17/bitconnect-bitcoin-scam-cryptocurrency/

Artikel door Roel Koens