Not just for cryptocurrency: What Is blockchain used for besides Bitcoin
A distributed database is needed not only to store transactions. Politics, finance, real estate transactions, event sign up - this is just a generic list of those areas where blockchain is integrated. Can it change the world?
Electronic ID cards for everyone
Estonia is one of the world leaders, who implemented electronic systems in the state and public spheres. A small country with a population of 1.3 million is considered to be a pioneer in integration blockchain into medicine, bank sector, stock trading and elections. Citizens have “smart” cards with personal information that give access to more than 1 thousand of public services.
Long before the blockchain invention, In Estonia local elections were held via the Internet. It happened in 2005.
They used ID cards as a substitute for passport, travel card, library ticket. etc. What’s interesting is citizens had the right to change the object of preference and “re-vote” several times before the elections.
The shift to blockchain began with the Guardtime startup, which proposed to secure a million of medical records by transferring them to blockchain. Now, any doctor has an access to information about diagnoses, vaccinations, contraindications, and other data which is often lost in hospital sheets.
According to the founder of the project, Mike Gault, two things cannot be done online in Estonia - marry and divorce, for the rest there is blockchain.
Blockchain integration allowed to reduce the workflow cost, made transfer and storage of data transparent, and decreased the size of the Government. One of the innovations was the introduction of "e-Residency". It allowed anyone, not necessarily a citizen of the country, to open a business, make deals, enter into contracts and perform other actions using a unique electronic digital signature. To do this, people use the same “smart” card as citizens of the country, only in a simple version.
Thus, in Estonia, cryptographic encryption keys (private and public) made far more convenient such options as signing and encrypting documents, certifying other transactions with a digital signature, paying for travel, voting, using public services. Moreover, Estonian government legalized operations with bitcoins using the same ID-cards.
Internet of Things
The phrase Internet of Things (IoT) appeared in 1999. However, It became popular recently with the advent of cloud services, blockchain, artificial intelligence, and wireless communications. Internet of Things is a combination of several technologies, and blockchain plays a significant role in it.
In everyday life, Internet of Things is perceived as the ability of devices (household appliances, machine tools, equipment) to interact with each other. Something like fridges, which can order food through the terminals of grocery stores and paying for it using a credit card of its "master" without his direct participation. The ordered products are delivered and sorted by drones.
As an example, the concept of "smart" city. Regarding to Russia, the project of smart utility meters for the housing and communal services payments is considered to be the most promising. In Europe, at least 40% of households use smart meters, which is about 100 million devices. All of them are connected to a single transparent network and automatically take readings of gas, water, electricity and heat consumed.
However, the Internet of Things integration into the enterprises functioning system seems to be even more promising idea. This will increase productivity, reduce costs and introduce new business models. As an illustration, let us give an example of the mining industry, equipped with a line with sensors. Instead of trucks with drivers, drones will move on the highways. The operator can observe their rout remotely, being away from dangerous production.
Real estate transactions
Registration of ownership has always been the most difficult in law enforcement practice. Today sellers, buyers, bankers, realtors are bind to a contractual relationship. This is done in order to protect the parties from possible financial losses. However, if you use blockchain as a registry with records protected by cryptographic algorithms, you can reduce the time of registration by several times and get rid of intermediaries.
In 2016, the National Public Registry Agency of Georgia, in cooperation with one of the companies, launched a project to create a blockchain network for land plots registration. Now statements are automatically loaded into the registry. In the future, customers will be able to register buildings and structures, cars, and other equipment. The next stage of development will be the introduction of blockchain to notaries and public procurement (to ensure the transparency of bids, tenders, etc.)
Authorship property rights registration is another area of blockchain technologies application. In particular, for musical work it is planned to use two key identification standards: ISRC and ISWC. The launch of the system will “reset” the relationship between the author and the user. Musicians will be able to add their work with metadata to the blockchain. A smart contract is activated between them while listening, which offers different terms of using the composition - for personal or commercial use, or music accompaniment in a video or movie, etc.
Images protection, as well as video and graphic content stays prioritized for such companies as Intel and Baidu. Developers believe that they will be able to reduce the cost of artwork by removing intermediary resources and websites. Remuneration will be transferred directly to the copyright holder. Some creative people, such as the singer Imogen Heap, already place their artwork on blockchain platforms.
Many of modern author-oriented blockchain platforms will move away from the “broadcasting to void” format. Instead, before publishing the work, they will have to choose a genre (for example, “music-jazz”, “film-horror”).Thus the artwork will be the first to be seen by users with corresponding interests and will be able to evaluate the usefulness, originality and uniqueness of the artwork and vote with tokens.
Thus, the consumer will directly vote for the “usefulness” of the content. No producers, publishers, critics who decide what to give the "green light" and what to bury forever on the web. For example, the blockchain platform of original videos Viuly operates with VIU tokens (1 billion of them are issued and they are distributed between authors and viewers). Users pay the authors a reward, while receive tokens themselves for just viewing certain videos. Authors can set up premium channels and charge for watching videos from them. The received reward can be withdrawn to the ETH wallet and cash out on the exchange.
What is the difference of this service from the YouTube:
- decentralization (the reward is not distributed by Google);
- pay-per-user’s interest;
- own issued currency;
- soft censorship;
- open viewing statistics;
- authors get 65-90% of the advertising budget and premium video views;
- users get 25-95% of the advertising budget for viewing;
- all videos are stored in encrypted form.
It is closely related to the previous segment. The value of blockchain platforms regarding texts is assessed by commentators. While comments also can be assessed, making a profit to users.
Chain is automatically formed, including the newly created content and the text preceding it. The system checks the text for all its structures and assigns it a unique code. After adding each new block, the system is updated automatically. Theoretically, Google could do the same with Yandex. But for this, the entire system should be updated after adding each new page on any site. However, it takes a very long time for the data to be processed by the servers. But within the blockchain, the entire system is distributed and supported by all participants, and therefore it is updated faster.
The blockchain will transfer the blogging sphere to the category of resources not controlled by anyone. Users will be able to rate content directly. Moreover, the author will not need to acquire a domain, spend money on processing the target audience, building a semantic core and contextual advertising. User can write about almost anything, the main thing is to do it with skill and taste.
European football switching to blockchain
The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) reported on the successful testing service for the sale of tickets via smartphones. Using blockchain technology makes it different from similar applications.
The system successfully passed a partial test during the sale of tickets for the 2018 Europa League final for football, which was held in Lyon. Then, using the blockchain network, 50% of tickets were sold. The result was accepted as successful and UEFA ordered to increase the availability of this technology for the fans.
On August 15, the UEFA Super Cup match between Real Madrid (Madrid) and Atletico (Madrid) teams sold all tickets using a blockchain application for iOS and Android. The association was satisfied with the sales mechanism, emphasizing its simplicity and security. Thanks to the blockchain, it is impossible to fake and replicate tickets, which eliminates the possibility of fraud.
UEFA intends to use the blockchain system to sell tickets for upcoming events and eventually stick with it.
Draws and lotteries
For several years, organizers of draws and lotteries based on blockchains have been using such slogans as “absolute fraud protection!”. In the simplest version, blocks with data about participants in the database are constantly updated every few minutes. At the moment of the draw, the last formed (final) block is selected. A number is extracted from it, calculated on the basis of the block contents. Then it is divided by the number of participants in the event and thus the winner is calculated.
If for some reason the winner does not qualify (for example, he did not fulfill the conditions, did not join the group, did not make a repost), then he is removed from the base and after another calculation, a new lucky user is determined. All data of all the sweepstakes is recorded in blocks so anyone can see it.
The blockchain technology opens up new opportunities for decentralization and automation of processes in many areas. They will become transparent, autonomous, devoid of speculative and intermediary aspects. Mining is only the apex of this technology, a pleasant bonus to the work being done to support different projects. This work is able to completely change the world, make it open and cheapen many spheres.