Businessman holding icon with ICO or Initial Coin Offering on interface virtual screen. Digital currency network concept

Blockchain technologies and their variants have been the most disruptive innovations that have come unto the technology scene in the past decade or so since social networking. The ability of blockchain technologies to completely decentralized data and yet still maintain the accuracy of information is one of the key components that makes blockchain technologies as a whole to be seen as a promising phenomenon.

Ever since Satoshi Nakamoto published his infamous paper on how peer to peer records can be shared, the future of information technology has changed but only very few are able to see what decentralization of processes and procedures can do for the larger internet.

Technologies when they are introduced at first can be controversial. Over time, when their acceptance rates begin to rise and the technologies themselves become more versatile then one would begin to see that the perceived value begins to rise.

The birth of the internet has made this process to occur at an even faster rate than has occurred previously. Without the internet, certain key technologies like social networking or even blockchain technologies would simply not exist.

Now that we have blockchain technology and they have come to stay (check out the leaping values of bitcoin late last year! Check it out on: www.coinmarketcap.com ), various uses have emerged as possible ways through which blockchain technology can be utilized. Some already which are listed below have started to take form through the emergence of initial coin offerings which are proving to be another way of raising money very quickly;

Voting and digital democracy: Since the existence of a public ledger system ensures the integrity of the data that is kept within a block in the blockchain itself, digital voting and democracy as a whole can be changed forever due to the fact that records of everyone who votes would be tracked through the blockchain of that specific system. At the same time due to the pseudonymous nature of each transaction where the users cannot really be identified per se, the identities of the individual voters will be kept secret due to the encryption itself within the blockchain. Voting could as well be decentralized and yet have more integrity than current systems which are currently in place. Voter fraud would be totally eliminated but then again, politicians depend on their ability to lie to become convincing isn’t it?

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Alternate financial systems: The aim of the use of blockchain technology to create financial systems that do not need the use of central banks as intermediaries is one of the main aims of the development of blockchains in the first place. However, due to the scalability issues and slow processing of transactions on various blockchains, the dream of near instant settlement was far from becoming reality. However, with the emergence of technologies like Raiden and Sharding on the Ethereum blockchain and various ICOs of new emerging technologies such as Directed Acyclic Graph (DAG) for short which makes transactions to be beyond instantaneous in some cases (like in the Fantom project case), alternate financial systems with the security legacy of blockchains are the stuff that the future is made of.

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Stocks and other securities: Real time settlement of stocks and other securities would now become possible with the introduction of blockchain technologies to stock exchange systems. A perfectly clear example where such technologies are already at work are on the digital asset exchange systems such as Bittrex , Kucoin, Polionex and Binance which all offer near real time settlement of different crypto assets. The advantage of using blockchain technology in securities trading will also be in the decentralization of clearing systems. Dividends and other bonuses on equities will be paid also in real time and the cost of building and securing such systems will go down as much as seventy percent of the current costs.

Businessman holding icon with ICO or Initial Coin Offering on interface virtual screen. Digital currency network concept

Real estate transactions: This particular industry is often notorious for the various lapses, which occur from time to time due to interference with data that has already been in storage. Interference by people who wish to create harm and also to cause havoc is one easy loophole which can be closed through the implementation of blockchain technologies in the real estate sector. The emergence of smart contracts would also limit the manipulation of agreements and ensure that system integrity is ensured and more importantly adhered to.  Manipulation of the real estate markets would now become a thing of the past as the records of the values of different portfolios will be available for all to see, and to verify in the case of real estate fraud

Supply chain and logistics systems: Enterprise resource planning systems in the logistics and supply chain industry have constituted bulk of the cost of implementation and also of operations. Tracking of the different elements of a supply chain system and information exchange between the different components has always been one nightmarish scenario after the other. Information security again in such systems has been at the front burner. As such, costs of implementation and operations of logistics systems have been on the steady increase due to the emergence of new challenges to the effective operations of logistics and supply chains globally. However, blockchain technology can revolutionize the above industry. Storage of data in blocks in a decentralized peer to peer format will allow for data integrity and security. Real time gross settlement of information will also allow for speed and the implementation of confirmation processes that advance the blockchain will give way to faster transaction speeds.  A single blockchain solution can link all the offices of a logistics organization worldwide at less than half the cost of running current systems.

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Social Networking: As wonderful as it has been, the phenomenon of social networking has also given rise to the uglier and darker side of human existences. From the manipulation of human beings by others to the influencing of human beings by governments and the restriction of free speech by dictatorial regimes. Blockchain technologies can indeed create balanced approach to the system of social networking and also introduce a social model where people are rewarded based on their participation in such networks and their social value as depicted by others. Steemit comes to mind as a perfect example of such.

Markets: The centralization of markets is one method through which the prices of goods and services can be controlled and decided by a select few. The decentralization of markets using blockchain technologies would allow for a more balanced approach to trade and a reduction in prices due to the fact that access to the marketplace is based on access to the blockchain rather than on access to certain resources by a select few. Trading can now take place directly between buyer and seller than going through middlemen of various sets and layers who then increase the value of goods and services arbitrarily for no obvious reasons other than profit. Escrow transactions now become easy as when buyer and seller both trust another party to confirm transfer of funds, it then becomes easy for verification of claims by both sides without the high costs which we experience in such transactions today.

Certifications: In order to prove the authenticity of say ownership of something, blockchain technologies can indeed be used in such cases to serve as proof of such via certifications. Blockchain technologies also could be used in the academia to provide the track records of each student in an academic system. The incidences of fraud and crime due to the lack of complete data will reduce drastically if there exists a blockchain for the verification of different circumstances and situations via blockchain technologies.

Communications: In today’s era of government controls where whoever is in government controls how people communicate, decentralized and distributed  forms of communication via blockchain provide relief to those who want to keep their communications from the prying eyes of government. It is at this time necessary for blockchain technologies to assist in this regard because it is not in the best interest of humanity that governments take an absolute hold of our communications infrastructure. Fascism would be the order of the day rather than institutions which are meant to reflect the will of the people.  As such, communications based on blockchain would provide a seamless way to preserve the freedoms that are enjoyed in democracies worldwide.

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Internet Technologies: The backbone of the worldwide web hasn’t changed much since its inception. This soft underbelly of the global information infrastructure is exposed to rogue individuals, groups or even nation states who wish to cripple albeit temporarily the operations of the World Wide Web.  The emergence of decentralized internet applications is the precursor to a more redundant and dynamic internet where new forms of data sets would emerge with security that is second to none. Already, many people are playing with technology that would enable this. The internet would now become a safer, fun and more interactive place to be for all and sundry.

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The legal industry: With the emergence of the phenomenon of smart contracts which are a series of programmed rules and instructions based on scenarios to execute within a specific blockchain, the integrity of transactions and even everyday activities would improve over time not due to the sanctity of the individuals in question who are engaged within the rules based system, rather it is because of the integrity of the system itself that things would improve. As such, legal contracts would be taken more seriously and people would not want to breach contracts due to the consequences of doing so which would be mathematically implemented.

Overall, blockchain technologies can indeed change the way we do things as a race. Technologies like these come once every generation and they propel human beings into the next level of advancement. It is only those people  who take the bull by the horns that will see the opportunities which blockchain has to offer and will take due advantage of them.

Do you know of any other ways which blockchain can be used? Please feel free to comment about them below.

Posted by Dan K Jatau Sr. MSc, PhD, MBCS, MInstLM

Dan K Jatau is a Nottingham, UK-based Information security and technology infrastructure expert and researcher who likes to write about technology subjects from both a business and technical perspective. His current interests are business-driven security architectures, identity and access, the Cloud, virtualization security and all aspects of security. He currently works in security program development and architecture and develops enterprise security programs for SMEs.