How to Use Blockchain Outside of Bitcoin
The best-known use case of blockchain so far may be the cryptocurrency of bitcoin, but blockchain has also been gaining ground elsewhere. In the opinion of the Harvard Business Review, the distributed digital ledger technology of blockchain “has the potential to create new foundations for our economic and social systems.” That said, HBR also suggested that it would “take decades for blockchain to seep into our economic and social infrastructure.” In some sectors however, blockchain may be moving somewhat faster.
Finance and Insurance
Even banking, for which decentralized systems of transactions based on blockchain might be competition, sees a positive side. Blockchain can help financial institutions of all kinds to reduce inefficiency in their own systems. Likewise, multinational insurance company AXA has been developing the use of blockchain for micro-insurance contracts.
Government and Healthcare
Blockchain can help curb administrative expenses, make record-keeping more efficient, and improve security in governments. Smart contracts for procurement are a further possibility, as is the organization of fair elections. The US government also launched a blockchain contest for healthcare in 2016, calling for ideas and proposals from interested parties. For healthcare specifically, blockchain could secure the storage of medical records and alleviate the current headaches of the coordination of benefit payments.
Supply Chain and Logistics
Where finance and government have been investing and testing, supply chains and logistics have been doing. Retailer Walmart has already implemented blockchain technology to help it track supplies of perishable goods like meat, making it easier and faster to trace batches and suppliers in cases of quality problems. Meanwhile, international shipping company Maersk has put blockchain in place to expedite trans-border customs formalities for its container shipments.
Skillsets and Use Cases
There is no shortage of ideas for using blockchain outside bitcoin. However, implementation needs a mix of programming experience, cryptography knowledge, and business awareness. Finding enough people with such skills may be a challenge. Internal training or external hiring and service providers are possible solutions. Meanwhile, blockchain technology is freely available (and free of charge), helping to promote the use of blockchain wherever the use case makes sense.