Innovative Ways Companies are Developing Businesses Using Blockchain
Have you heard of the “self-owning” car? By combining blockchain and self-driving vehicles, it becomes possible – theoretically – for a car to become an independent operator, offering Uber-style chauffeur services, and using blockchain to take payment from its customers and make payments on its lease back to its manufacturer, servicing, and other running expenses.
So far, the self-owning car has not materialized. On the other hand, there has been an explosion in the number of companies, startup or established, offering solutions and services based on blockchain. Initial coin offerings (ICOs) have become weekly events, offering investments per se or to underpin projects as diverse as global cloud storage networks, online casinos and even digital coins that can be earned simply by walking.
However, this great diversity of ideas also begs the question: which projects have already shown results? Here are a few examples of innovative blockchain applications that have clearly got further than the drawing board.
- Automated security. A blockchain “smart contract” (essentially, a software program) controls access to a location, according to whether fees have been paid. House rentals are one example. Startup Slock is developing its business here, in a market now “legitimized” by the arrival of bigger players like IBM.
- Solar power microgrid. Uses the Ethereum platform for smart contracts to buy and sell solar panel generated power between households in Brooklyn, New York. Other energy-related projects elsewhere include a blockchain powered service for recharging “green” vehicles while they are stationary at traffic lights.
- Music Licensing. UK musician-composer Imogen Heap uses blockchain to license her own music, and as the basis of a service for other musicians to license theirs. Blockchain helps respect copyright and is also the basis of other applications to protect intellectual property for enterprises.
- Refugee aid. The United Nations World Food Programme (UNWFP) sent cryptocurrency-backed vouchers to more than 10,000 Syrian refugees, with a platform implemented under the auspices of one of the founders of Ethereum, and startups Datarella and Parity Technologies.
The characteristics of blockchain make it well suited to business innovation. Decentralization, tamperproof and rapid transactions, and availability of platforms and tools for implementation also make it more than “a solution in search of a problem”, as success stories like those above demonstrate.