Blockchain is revolutionizing online transactions. The technology provides a distributed, decentralized way to forward bundles of records, known as blocks, into a chronological chain using cryptography. These records can hold anything under the sun, from medical records to stock trades. While blockchain originally came to fame as a means to power Bitcoin, new use cases are popping up in a range of commercial applications.
Blockchain is expected to play a major part in the enablement of smart contracts, a computer protocol that highlights the conditions under which an online transaction may occur. With smart contracts, commercial translations and agreements can be delivered automatically. Moreover, the decentralized approach of blockchain brings a level of security to smart contracts that eclipses traditional contract law, while eliminating the middleman.
Blockchain could be used to better secure patient medical records in an era of data breaches. The technology helps assure patient medical records are both updated and accurate, while maintaining the privacy of the data using cryptography. Patients could provide their doctor, hospital or pharmacy access to their records if they so chose, allowing health professionals make informed treatment recommendations based on the data.
Online identity management
Blockchain opens up opportunities within the realm of online identity management as well. The stretch of data breaches to plague the web this year — from Equifax to Nokia — underscore how vulnerable consumer information is in conventional online databases. The truth is users must provide a wealth of information to confirm their identity online. With blockchain, however, users can determine their online identity and who is notified of their identity . Once registered in the blockchain, users can use their identification for additional services indefinitely.
Homeowners recognize how taxing purchasing a home with a mortgage can be while mining through a mountain of papers consisting of tax returns and receipts. Blockchain could help short-circuit the process using a digitized approach. Users could leverage a public ledger that includes real estate titles, planning permissions and deeds, which they could make available to lenders. A permissioned ledger could be used for the mortgage loan funding management process, which includes both smart contracted and automated mortgage payments.
Blockchain technology could even help better secure the election process by casting votes as transactions. On election day, each vote would be issued to registered users as a smart contract. The idea is that casting votes on the publicly available ledger would significantly reduce the risk of discrepancy. Electors would not need a technical background in blockchain to cast a vote either. All they would need is an app. The public ledger could not be modified once voting hours close, allowing everyone using the system to confirm the final vote count.