Why Blockchains Go Beyond Cryptocurrencies

June 18, 2018

By Jim Barnes, MBA. Senior Digital Architect at Globant.

When many people think about blockchain, the first thing that comes to mind is bitcoin.  While bitcoin certainly runs on a blockchain network, blockchains do not require a cryptocurrency.  Blockchains are just the foundation for cryptocurrencies and have expanded to smart contracts, distributed apps (dApps), and better cross chain integration. When applied to relationships and transactions they can help to automate and streamline those processes.
One of those areas that businesses can see immediate impact is applying blockchain to the supply chain.  This can be applied to both physical and digital supply chains to track assets, and automate processes. When looking at physical supply chains at the simple level you can track the assets to where they are within the process.  That is just the beginning though, you can automate payments, when shipping is received, email to let know status like delays, or even let know how much demand is at the retailer. This integration between all members of the supply chain builds tighter partnerships and allows for quicker sharing of data, and responses to issues.
When looking at other areas we can see how blockchains can also be utilized for establishing provenance for many assets.  Some of these areas would be building an insurance blockchain for all users to be able to quickly share data. This would allow people to share information faster, and get back to a normal state. Gone are the days of having to write down insurance information, or hoping you have it stored somewhere incase of a fire, now it is stored in the blockchain to retrieve anywhere. This can also be extended to real assets like cars, houses, and anything else you need to prove is yours.  What if you could easily when purchasing a car, enact a smart contract? Your information is immediately updated, the authorities know who owns the car, and your tags/other documents are triggered to be sent to you. All of this allows you to be more self determinant, and spend time focusing on what is important in the transaction.
While there are many opportunities for blockchain in your business, it is not the solution for everything.  Do you already have an enterprise resource planning system? Does the process exist solely within the walls of your organization? If yes then maybe blockchain is not the correct implementation for your system. But if you do need more collaboration, and that collaboration needs to happen across organizational boundaries, and sharing data to build trust is necessary, then blockchain may just be the right solution for you.

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