A blockchain, or a decentralized ledger, was birthed along with the first-ever cryptocurrency, Bitcoin (BTC), in 2009. Since then, blockchain technology has found a variety of different uses, for it is not exclusive to the crypto world only. In the simplest of terms, blockchain is a digital record split into ‘blocks’ that enables secure, accurate and quick record-keeping.
The technology has been linked to cryptocurrencies because blockchain is where all the cryptocurrencies live, i.e., blockchain is the infrastructure behind cryptocurrencies. And secondly, due to the increased interest in the new form of digital assets that have been rising for the last couple of years.
As a breaking-edge technology, the opportunities for blockchain are truly boundless, and developers and innovators around the world are constantly coming up with unique use cases based on the disruptive cum transformative tech to make our lives simpler.
In order to understand this better, it is important to take a step back and understand the two main categories of blockchain: private and public. While public blockchains require cryptocurrencies to function, private blockchains do not. Unlike public blockchains that are open to all, private blockchains lack decentralization, and are invite-only networks run by distinct organizations like banks. Remember JP Morgan, the leading global bank with its own blockchain?
Emerging Uses of Blockchain Beyond Cryptos
You must have been asked to accept browser cookies at least once while looking up something online. Websites and service providers mostly use data collected via cookies to understand user preferences in order to cater ads specific to their interests. However, there is also quite a lot of illegal activity running rampant in the online sphere, and many have feared that blockchain’s all-transparent nature means that it would put an end to data privacy. It is, however, the complete opposite.
Further innovations in blockchain technology would enable a more secure browsing experience by keeping your data secure and allowing you to surf the web anonymously. Without going into too much technical jargon, this privacy would be created by handling your data on a decentralized network instead of a website owner or a service provider, with the data being broken into blocks and scattered across the network. By keeping the decryption key secure, no one could possibly have access to this data, ensuring complete privacy.
Blockchain provides an indisputable public record of every transaction, which is why its use in the supply chain is not surprising. The world is growing more environmentally conscious by the day, rightfully so, and blockchain technology helps trace resources all the way back to the source to improve visibility of whether the materials and processes used are sustainable or not. Modern consumers are made aware of this to ensure proper clarity from start to finish. This allows manufacturing firms, suppliers, and transporters to be more accountable, causing a positive ripple effect throughout the supply chain.
Moreover, blockchain technology is a much-needed source for independent farmers, miners, etc., to create an economic identity and earn a livelihood because of the transparency and traceability of transactions a blockchain ensures.
Regaining identification records is an important use of blockchain technology that is being used around the world. For people in refugee camps and those who are homeless, blockchain-based identification records can be life-saving by enabling them to move across countries and find work. In Jordan, for example, blockchain technology is being used by Syrian refugees to regain access to their lost identities through blockchain technology. In Texas, this technology is also being used to identify homeless people and provide them quick access to social programs. This truly proves how widespread the use of blockchain technology is and that, unlike public perception, it can be used as a force for good.
Besides that, blockchain technology is being extensively employed in smart contract-based dApps, Defi, NFTs, and metaverse sectors. Many governments use blockchain to record property-related databases of their citizens or to conduct voting transparently. The technology is also used in tandem with other emerging technologies like AR/VR and IoT to power other processes, including power grids, parking, traffic control, and even to manage space operations. Many universities are already granting e-degrees and certificates and mapping student progress in the educational curriculum using the blockchain.
It truly seems like blockchain technology is unstoppable with the endless world of possibilities in the modern world. While it may have been created to facilitate Bitcoin, it has since taken on a life of its own. The uses of private blockchain sans the crypto aspect are bound to grow as developers innovate and find new ways to use this exciting technology.