Blockchain's impact on industries

Luis Atoche | September 28, 2022

In general, there is widespread interest in Blockchain for business technology due in large part to the enormous potential it has to improve operational efficiency, achieve scalability, and add economic value. Regarding the last point, Gartner projected that Blockchain's "commercial added value will grow to just over $176 billion by 2025, and then exceed $3.1 trillion by 2030." Even if this estimate had a 50% error, it is too large to ignore. The lack of adaptation and adoption may make many companies irrelevant; eventually, they will be absorbed or shut down. Indeed, we are living in interesting times.

According to the Forbes Technology Council, which is an invitation-only community for world-class CIOs, CTOs, and technology executives, the following 13 industries and/or initiatives are cited as potential beneficiaries of Blockchain adoption:

  • Advertising: for its ability to eliminate fraud within the advertising stacks.
  • Stock trading: for its ability to eliminate fraud and/or illegal schemes facilitated by bad actors.
  • Government: for its ability to track where every penny of funding is. Likewise, for expenses.
  • Non-profit organizations: for their ability to provide lower administrative costs, transparency in the donation chain, and philanthropic control.
  • Electoral Management: for its ability to create transparent and open online voting systems, which could also dramatically increase turnout and strengthen our democracies.
  • Internet of things: for its ability to facilitate validation between computers, since two-factor authentication between humans and machines will not work.
  • Real Estate: for its ability to track transactions and efficiently connect title and escrow services.
  • Education: for its ability to disrupt many data exchange scenarios within the education system, specifically verifying the authenticity of certificates and accreditation, thereby eliminating the need for educational institutions to authorize credentials.
  • Automotive Industry: for its ability to enable automakers and their suppliers to build next-generation products and services with their vehicles acting as a platform, rather than simply selling vehicles as a product.
  • Pharmaceuticals: for its ability to track compounds through manufacturing, packaging, and final delivery to a patient via Blockchain, they can ensure drug purity and save lives.
  • Banking: for its ability to expand access to services with low rates (or without them). Barclays, for example, is looking to adopt Blockchain to facilitate cryptocurrency transfers. This would give people the ability to send money across borders easily, instantly, and at relatively low fees.
  • Manufacturing – for its ability to help supply chain logistics by utilizing a distributed ledger that can be implemented between internal business stakeholders and external suppliers and their subcontractors.
  • Health care: for its ability to facilitate a universal identification that could link all of a person's health records. This would dramatically enable patient-centric health.

Blockchain is applicable in use cases that have any of the following characteristics: there are two or more interested parties; there are intermediaries that could be eliminated to improve the security and/or efficiency of the system, trust between collaborating entities is needed; data integrity must be maintained, there is a need for transparency, and/or there is a need to promote trust between parties.

For example, in the healthcare industry, Blockchain offers a great opportunity to realize a solution that can put patients at the center of managing their own health data, improve privacy, and regulate access to medical records while ensuring data availability and integrity by facilitating linking and sharing between different healthcare stakeholders. Blockchain, with its unique properties of decentralization, immutability, auditability, reliability, and redundancy, offers many of the key features that make this technology well suited to realizing the aforementioned goals.

Some notable solutions where Blockchain is being used in this industry are:

  1. Guardtime, a blockchain-based platform to secure over 1 million patient records in Estonia.
  2. MedRec, which aims to give patients the ability to control who can access their medical record through some granular access permissions built into the blockchain.
  3. The Gem Health Network (GHN), developed by the American company Gem, using Ethereum. GHN allows different health professionals to have shared access to the same data.
  4. Healthbank, a Swiss digital health company is similarly working to empower patients to be in full control of their data using the blockchain platform.
  5. There is also the MedicalChain Project, whose blockchain-based platform will facilitate the exchange of patient medical records in international healthcare institutions, and the Healthcoin initiative, which aims to build a global EMR system.
  6. Other recently developed blockchain-based EMR applications include MedBlock, BlockHIE, and FHIRChain.

 

Another example can be found in online advertising; Typically, a publisher leases ad space to an ad network. When a user connects to a web page with ad slots, an ad request is generated, the request is usually passed to the ad network, which in turn can forward it to other ad networks going through many intermediaries before reaching Ad Exchange. The Ad Exchange initiates a bidding process, the standard for a bidding process is the Real Time Open Bidding (RTB) protocol. An Ad Exchange generates a bid request according to the openRTB standard. The bid request is forwarded to the demand-side platforms (DSPs), which are registered with the Ad Exchange in question. DSPs set up programmatic advertising campaigns. When an offer request is received, the DSP verifies a match with the configuration parameters of any of your ongoing campaigns. If there is a match, the DSP generates a bid response with the price the advertiser is willing to pay to display their ad on the web page. The latency of bid responses to a given bid request received by Ad Exchange must be less than 100ms. Ad Exchange runs an automated auction and informs DSPs of the selected winning bid. Ad Exchange coordinates the delivery of an ad URL, which is downloaded by the web browser. A delivered ad is known as an ad impression.

The technology requirements for a specific blockchain online advertising implementation fall into two categories: online advertising-specific requirements and general blockchain requirements. General requirements for blockchain include scalability, inability to modify blocks, and energy efficiency. The specific requirements for online advertising are based on the assumption that blockchain implementations should be able to address the significant challenges in online advertising: privacy, ad fraud, and lack of transparency. In a public statement in May 2017, David Weldon, chairman of the World Federation of Advertisers and CMO of Barclays Bank, said that reform leading to a safe and transparent market is the "only future for online advertising".

Blockchain is often focused on as part of specifically financial solutions, but recent analysis confirms that this is not entirely true and that various industries can obtain a commercial benefit from the implementation of this technology.

The potential of Blockchain and its impact on industries is highly relevant; however, the technology itself could not generate its benefits without the proper support, so the questions that may arise are: How do I start? Is it just technology adoption? Do I need to change or adapt my business model? What are the short-term and long-term benefits of making these changes?

 

[1] Forecast: Blockchain Business Value, Worldwide, 2017-2030 (gartner.com) (Links to an external site.)

[2] https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2019/06/25/13-industries-and-activities-that-could-benefit-from-blockchains-transparency/#:~:text=13%20Industries%20And%20Activities%20That%20Could%20Benefit%20From,6%20Internet%20Of%20Things.%20...%20More%20items...%20

[3] M. Pärssinen, M. Kotila, R. Cuevas Rumin, A. Phansalkar and J. Manner, "Is Blockchain Ready to Revolutionize Online Advertising?," in IEEE Access, vol. 6, pp. 54884-54899, 2018, doi: 10.1109/ACCESS.2018.2872694.

[4]Agbo, C. C., & Mahmoud, Q. H. (2020). Blockchain in Healthcare: Opportunities, Challenges, and Possible Solutions. International Journal of Healthcare Information Systems and Informatics (IJHISI), 15(3), 82-97. http://doi.org/10.4018/IJHISI.2020070105

 

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