A growing number of companies across various industries have begun to apply blockchain technology to improve business models, streamline processes and reduce costs. The distributed ledger technology that underlies the cryptocurrency bitcoin provides a way to record and transfer data that is transparent, safe, auditable, and resistant to outages. With a very high likelihood, the blockchain will disrupt most major commercial industries in the coming five to ten years.
In this article, you will discover 17 industries that are being disrupted by blockchain technology in 2017.
Despite the blockchain ledger being public, data communications are verified and encrypted using advanced encoding techniques when sent out. This way the recipient is assured of the data’s integrity and the data is less susceptible to intercepts. By eliminating the need for human intermediaries, blockchain technology is believed to be more efficient than any other legacy system when used in the cyber security space.
Banks can utilise blockchain technology to make business operations more efficient, faster and secure. Barclays and UBS, for example, are researching ways to use blockchain technology to reduce mid-level management costs. As part of a growing trend, banks are increasingly investing in blockchain startups and working on blockchain projects. R3CEV, a distributed database technology firm, has the backing of a consortium of over 50 banks as it tries to design blockchain enabled solutions, for the banking sector.
Companies that offer cloud storage services store their customer’s data in centralized servers, which are vulnerable to breaches and data loss due to operational or human errors. On the other hand, cloud storage solutions that incorporate blockchain technology are less exposed to attacks that may cause system outages or loss of data.
Storj is an example of a blockchain based, end-to-end encrypted, cloud storage network that is secure and cheaper for cloud-based transactions. Users on the Storj network are also able to rent out any remaining digital storage space to other parties for a fee. Hence, opening up a new market for crowdsourced cloud storage.
Money Transfers and Payments
Decentralized payment systems like bitcoin have the potential to transform the current business framework relating to money transfers. Money transfer services using blockchain technology are able to facilitate cash transfers, domestically and across borders almost instantly at lower fees. One of the leading startups involved in blockchain based money transfers is Abra, which managed to raise $12 million in seed funding for its bitcoin-based remittance service.
Vehicle Leasing and Sales
Recently, DocuSign and Visa announced a partnership to create a proof of concept for streamlining car leasing using blockchain technology. The result would be a simple ‘click, sign and drive’ version of what currently exists. The prospective customer selects the car he or she wants to lease and the transaction is captured on a blockchain ledger. The driver then proceeds to sign a lease contract and an insurance policy, which is updated on the blockchain. Perhaps, in the future, this solution will be used for vehicle sales and registration.
Networking and IoT
Samsung and IBM are partnering on a concept known as ADEPT, which utilises blockchain technology to create a decentralised network of IoT devices. The new concept would operate as a public ledger for a large number of devices, which would eliminate the need for a central location to handle communications between them. The lack of a central hub to identify each other means the devices would be able to communicate to one another autonomously to manage bugs, software updates, and energy.
Many companies have worked for years to simplify the process of buying, selling and trading shares. Now, new blockchain focused startups are developing solutions that will make the entire securities trading process even more efficient. One of the startups, TØ.com aims at enabling stock transactions over the Internet using blockchain technology. Overstock, the parent company, already uses blockchain to issue private bonds, but now has SEC approval to trade bonds publicly, through its subsidiary TØ.com.
Another blockchain startup called Chain is working closely with NASDAQ to allow the trading of stocks in private firms through a blockchain.
There are a handful of tech companies out there that provide a way for users to exchange assets temporarily for value in the sharing economy. The challenge for users is the difficulty of insuring your assets on these platforms. Luckily, blockchain technology offers a solution in the form of LenderBot. This is a micro-insurance proof of concept for the sharing economy developed by blockchain startup, Stratumn, in partnership with Deloitte and payment services company Lemonway.
LenderBot allows you to enroll in customised micro-insurance via live chats on Facebook Messenger. The aim is to provide a cover for high-value items exchanged between individuals with the blockchain acting as a third party in the agreement.
Key challenges for customers when buying and selling property include fraud, lengthy paperwork requirements, lack of transparency during transactions, mistakes in public records and so forth. Blockchain has the potential to speed up transactions by reducing the need for paper-based record keeping. It can further help in tracking, recording, and transferring property deeds or land titles, but also ensuring documents are accurate and verifiable.
Ubitquity, a company based in the US, offers users a platform meant to be an alternative to the current legacy paper systems, for recording and tracking purposes.
Supply Chain Management
Blockchain is a technology that allows for the secure and transparent way of recording and monitoring transactions. Supply chains can greatly benefit from the blockchain as transactions can be documented in a permanent decentralised record, hence reducing time delays, additional costs, and human mistakes. Here are some blockchain startups that are joining this sector:
- Provenance: The Company is currently working on a traceability system for products and materials.
- Fluent: Provides an alternative way of lending into worldwide supply chains.
- SkuChain: The Company designs blockchain-based products for the enterprise to enterprise trade and supply chain finance market.
Governance and Public Benefits
Blockchain technology can assist in the distribution of aid and welfare by streamlining government operations and securing their systems. In the UK, London-based GovCoin Systems Limited, a financial technology company is helping the government to distribute benefits to people who need them using the distributed ledger technology.
Energy management has for a long time been a highly centralised industry. Take the US for example, where to transact in energy you have to go through trusted power firms or transact with retailers who buy from established electricity companies. TransactiveGrid, a New York-based startup, is using Ethereum blockchain technology that allows customers to transact in decentralised energy generation schemes, which makes it easier for people to buy and sell energy to others.
Loyalty Programs and Gift Cards
Blockchains can reduce the cost of loyalty program systems and make them more secure. With fewer intermediaries required to process the issuing of cards and transactions, acquisition of blockchain run gift cards is more cost effective and efficient. Also, blockchain’s unique verification feature is able to decrease costs and prevent fraud.
Gyft, a digital card platform that lets individuals manage gift cards, has unveiled GyftBlock, a program that runs gift cards for thousands of small enterprises on the blockchain. This new offering is a result of its partnership with infrastructure provider Chain.
Blockchain is set to change the entire approach to research, consulting, analysis and forecasting. The online platform Augur is looking to take advantage of the decentralised prediction markets. The company it would offer a service that is almost similar to a betting exchange. The entire process of placing bets on sports and stocks and other issues like elections and natural disasters will be decentralised. Their aim is to go beyond sports gambling and establish a global ‘predictions’ market.
E-hailing apps like Uber, have a centralised system where a single company is responsible for dispatching taxis and managing its fleet of drivers and what they charge using algorithms. An Israeli startup known as La’Zooz produces its own proprietary digital currency similar to bitcoin, which is documented digitally using blockchain technology. Unlike other centralized ride networks, people on La’Zooz locate other people traveling the same routes and exchange coins for the taxi rides. The coins can be kept for future transactions and users can earn coins by allowing the app to track their locations.
One of the key challenges hospitals face is the lack of secure platforms for them to share data. Improved information sharing between healthcare providers will mean accuracy in terms of diagnosis, increased the likelihood of effective treatments and reduction in healthcare costs. Blockchain technology will enable hospitals, patients and other stakeholders in the health industry to share access to their networks without having to worry about the security of the systems and data integrity. Blockchain startups that are transforming healthcare include:
- Gem: The startup offers an Ethereum blockchain enabled platform called the Gem Health Network, which uses multi-signature and multi-factor authentication technology making it a secure data sharing platform.
- Tieron: The Company has created a blockchain platform for data storage and verification in the health industry.
Blockchain startups are coming up with solutions for musicians by enabling direct payments to the artists and using smart contracts to solve licensing issues automatically. Startups such as Mycelia, are developing songs with smart contracts built in. The blockchain-run contracts allow artists to share their music directly with fans with no input from a record company.
Ujo Music, a company headed by entrepreneur Phil Barry, is looking to solve the challenges of streaming music and paying artists using the blockchain. It also uses smart contracts as a way to better catalog the songs and their respective creators/songwriters.
There are many potential applications for blockchain. While most attention is focused on its application in the financial services, you can see from this post that concepts, prototypes, and investments are continuing to emerge from all major industries.
Women in Blockchain: An Interview with Blockchain Association of Kenya’s Roselyn Gicira-Mwangi
On June 22, 2019, the Blockchain Association of Kenya (BAK) elected a new chairperson during its AGM. Bitcoin Africa talked to the newly elected chairperson, Roselyn Gicira-Mwangi, to understand what the association has accomplished so far, what she plans to achieve as chairperson, and about women in blockchain.
Since it was registered in 2017 as a non-profit, the Blockchain Association of Kenya (BAK) has played a big role in catalysing the largest Kenyan community and network of people working in the blockchain space. According to Gicira-Mwangi, this is one of the achievements that is the “foundation and catalyst of everything that is happening regarding blockchain in Kenya and East Africa.”
BAK has been an inspiration and role model to other blockchain communities and networks in Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Uganda. Furthermore, the association has grown its non-profit brand through the commitment and help of its community and network.
Through the guidance of a two-year strategic plan, BAK is currently working on several projects to promote blockchain awareness, adoption, and to expand the blockchain community.
“We are creating linkages with strategic partners to roll-out educational programmes for the public. The programmes will span from simple understanding and application of blockchain technology to actual courses for developers. We are also positioning the BAK as a platform to highlight all our partners’ activities to make it easy to plug into events whenever is convenient for them,” Roselyn said. “To get there, first we are working to get representatives in the different regions of the country to enable seamless representation for all Kenyans. This will lead up to a Blockchain summit at the end of the year hosted in one of these regions,” Gicira-Mwangi told BitcoinAfrica.io.
The association is reassessing its constitution and charter as it strives to grow its leadership, advisory, and board structure. A membership recruitment process for institutions, corporations, and individuals will follow this reassessment.
To support blockchain adoption, BAK has established working group forums to extract feedback and suggestions on how emerging technologies such as blockchain can drive development in the country at both levels of government.
Women in Blockchain
More than 50 percent of the people that reach out to BAK for a wide range of reasons are women, Gicira-Mwangi stated. As a woman in the blockchain industry, she believes that the diversity of players in any sector is crucial.
“My personal experience with Kenyan women is that they are keeping up with changes in technology and are keen to get a grasp on the future technological advancements and its impact on their lives. Women are also great networkers because they talk to each other about trends and events. Every other day, I get more women who want to be taken through Blockchain, its implications, and benefits,” she added.
Currently, women in Kenya are holding a wide array of positions in blockchain companies. They are trading and investing in cryptocurrencies, and increasing blockchain awareness to the people within their circles.
In anticipation of the rising demand for blockchain developers in the coming years, Roselyn plans to lead BAK in promoting the training of professionals in this line of work. Furthermore, collaborating with other regional blockchain organisations is another item on her to-do list during her term. Such partnerships could be used to promote blockchain awareness, increase blockchain innovation, and implement blockchain projects.
Gicira-Mwangi is passionate about emerging technologies and formerly worked as a programme officer at UN Women East and the Horn of Africa for eight years. Besides heading BAK, she is the director of Azuri Blockchain Consultants, a firm that connects investors with blockchain startups.
Blockchain Game Gods Unchained Secures New Game Director and Introduces Debit Card Payments
Blockchain card game Gods Unchained has added Magic: The Gathering Arena Game Director Chris Clay to its team and introduced debit card payments. These two decisions aim to drive the game closer to mainstream appeal.
Experience and Achievements
Clay’s experience of more than 20 years in design and game development will be valuable to his new position as game director at Gods Unchained. His task entails prioritising visual designs, new features, and supporting community experience.
In his previous role at MTG Arena, Clay brought on-board three million active players and more than one billion games were played. According to a report by Dot Esports, MTGA – a digital collectible free-to-play card game published by Wizards of the Coast – grossed around $225 million.
Currently, Gods Unchained is the top-selling blockchain game of the year and with Clay’s help, the game could reach greater heights and attract traditional players.
“I believe blockchain represents a new frontier for game developers. Digital asset ownership on the blockchain lets developers support games and their communities in ways we have never seen before in electronic gaming. […] Blockchain is not just for digital currency; it is laying the foundation for a whole new digital economy,” Clay explained.
As an Ethereum-based esports game, Gods Unchained has been allowing its community to purchase booster packs using ether. Users now have an alternative payments option of debit cards. This move could help the game to reach a wider audience by appealing to traditional players.
“To date, blockchain games have provided a niche group of individuals a fun and experimental game ecosystem of NFTs. But now is the time for mainstream adoption. We need these games to show value, and we do not want ‘blockchain’ to sit as just another buzzword. Gods Unchained will become a game that any person can play, regardless of their blockchain familiarity. And the fun of the game will not be predicated on the underlying tech,” stated Gods Unchained co-founder Robbie Ferguson.
In a press release, Gods Unchained announced the rebranding of Fuel Games to Immutable. Immutable is the creator behind Gods Unchained.
If you are into blockchain gaming, check out our guide to the best blockchain games in 2019.
Kenya’s Blockchain Taskforce Releases DLT Implementation Strategy for Kenya
Kenya’s Blockchain and AI Taskforce released its first report to the public since the ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru launched the body in 2018. The report depicts an implementation strategy for the adoption of these two emerging technologies that will steer Kenya to the fourth industrial revolution.
The report, titled Emerging Technologies for Kenya: Exploration & Analysis, has stipulated an implementation strategy based on blockchain technology and AI that will solve challenges such as financial exclusion, corruption, high public debt, inefficient public service delivery, food insecurity, and high transaction costs.
Furthermore, the report will guide the government in attaining the Big Four Agenda, which encompasses affordable housing, food security, manufacturing, and healthcare.
The Chairman of the taskforce, Bitange Ndemo stated: “I am confident that this report will guide policymakers in their efforts to stimulate an efficient and resilient economy with respect to the digital transformational technologies, especially with the realisation of the Big Four Agenda.”
Some of the implementation strategies are as follows:
Digital Asset Framework
The Blockchain and AI Taskforce has proposed a digital asset framework that will guide companies wishing to list a cryptocurrency on an exchange. According to the report, the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) is looking into how to regulate initial coin offerings (ICOs) by using the authority’s legal framework and the forthcoming regulatory sandbox.
The digital asset framework is meant to help small and medium-sized enterprises that are unable to raise capital through IPOs to have the alternative of using token sales.
The taskforce had earlier announced its proposal for a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), which would facilitate financial inclusion and low-cost transactions.
With 90 percent of Kenyans already using mobile money, credit cards, and bank transfers to make transactions, adding a CBDC to the existing digital economy could be a seamless process.
To introduce a digital currency in Kenya, the taskforce acknowledges that the country first requires a regulatory sandbox and the tokenisation of government fiscal operations.
Another proposed strategy is the tokenisation of the economy which could help to solve unemployment issues. The unemployment rate in Kenya is one of the highest in the world and the taskforce envisions a platform where work is exchanged for tokens to tackle this issue. Service providers will use the platform to build a work marketplace, store data, and manage transactions.
The Ajira Program, an initiative created to enable more Kenyans to work online, will adopt this proposed strategy. Using the Ethereum platform, Ajira will offer inter-person and inter-service settlements and payments. The initial stage of creating the Ajira platform is ongoing. A flagship service called Ajira Machine Learning (AML) is currently running on this platform. The AI-based service links crowd workers to digital tasks.
AML offers human language interfaces in African languages and pays people for teaching the AI to translate these languages.
The Chairman of the blockchain taskforce, Bitange Ndemo, had mentioned in an interview with BitcoinAfrica.io the need to tokenise Kenya’s economy. In addition, he had observed the importance of helping Kenyans to understand this process.
Target Implementation Areas
Some of the target implementation areas for blockchain and AI include the Ministry of Lands, Huduma Centres where important documents are issued, and the Ministry of Transport.
In the Ministry of Lands, illegally duplicated title deeds are a common issue. With blockchain technology, the land titling process will become transparent and secure.
Moreover, the blockchain will enable Kenya to build an efficient public service delivery system where digitised documents are sharable between various government offices and where Kenyans can trace the payments they make for services.
The Ministry of Transport can build a public transport model based on a sharing economy. This model is then built on a blockchain to ensure that all relevant stakeholders in the transport sector are part-owners and that everyone benefits.
“The Organisation would determine which participants would form part of the networked nodes that would run the validation software as well as the consensus mechanism. Typically, the network of participating nodes would include stakeholders with specific roles and mandates within the ministry and across the transport sector,” the report reads.
The taskforce believes that the proposed strategies and solutions in this report will propel Kenya’s economic development. Additionally, the ICT CS Joe Mucheru illustrates his commitment to have the entire contents of the report executed and to gain the backing of all stakeholders in making these recommendations a reality.
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