Today, trust is the foundation of many of our daily interactions and exchanges. We put money in a bank trusting that it is safer there. We give information to each other on the basis that they will not share it with another person without prior permission. We also rely heavily on pieces of paper: money, land records, transaction information, etc. But these pieces of paper can be easily stolen, forged or tampered with. Today, as we move towards the computerization of information, data can still be easily hacked and leaked.
Blockchain is a series of records or data distributed through a computer network so that no central computer or database contains the information, instead, each computer contains the data, making it a completely transparent system. The reason blockchain is so impressive is due to its inability to hack. Every exchange, transaction, or record entered into a database is time-stamped and verified by a large group of trusted computers before it is placed as a block in a chain of various other exchanges, transactions, or records. Once entered, the information “block” cannot be altered or deleted because that means altering or deleting the string on all computers simultaneously, which is almost impossible.
The social impact that blockchain technology can have is tremendous and it can be implemented to solve many problems facing the world today in a variety of areas. In most developing countries, agriculture contributes to a significant part of their GDP; However, many farmers suffer due to lack of money, lack of land, and lack of various resources necessary for agriculture. Even if a farmer owns a large parcel of land, it is often incorrectly recorded. Property titles also tend to be susceptible to fraud, as well as being expensive and time-consuming to administer. Blockchain can be implemented to digitize land and farmers will no longer have to fear someone hacking into the database and committing fraud on land ownership as all types of record keeping will be more efficient.
Not only will the technology tell you who the current owner of the land is, it can also tell you who the previous owner of the land was, making it extremely easy to trace the title chain. Blockchain can correctly update records of what part of the land belongs to which person and how much was produced from that land, allowing farmers to obtain the correct amount of funds needed.
Among many other areas, blockchain technology can contribute to the healthcare sector. Public health record keeping is a constant problem in many countries due to its inaccessibility to doctors and patients. By creating a decentralized ‘ledger’ of medical data, we can eliminate the paper trail in healthcare and make patient medical records available to patients and physicians easily and efficiently. It also eliminated the fear of medical records being lost. This change is not only convenient but necessary as doctor-patient confidentiality becomes increasingly important.
Currently, blockchain is mainly used in finance. Blockchain can accurately record the transfer between people and since each transfer has little or no cost, it has the potential to disrupt today’s financial organizations that make money by charging a fee for each transaction or transfer made. This creates what is called a peer-to-peer network, where a third party is not required for a transaction to occur.
In the financial world, what that means is that if a person wants to buy something, usually the bank and the place / site they are buying from, they will take a fraction of what they are paying for. And because there is no fee for a transaction on blockchain or the transaction fee is miniscule compared to the value of the transaction, most, if not all, of the money goes directly to the creator or distributor of the product.
The same logic can also be applied to the music industry. In fact, it is already being implemented today. Instead of a person buying a song through a streaming service like Apple Music or Spotify, they will pay the artist directly and get the rights to listen to and use the music. This eliminates the need for a ‘middle man’ and performs each transaction only between 2 entities.
These are just a few examples of where blockchain can be used to completely change how things used to be, essentially changing our lives, the economy, and our world. Blockchain is a multifaceted technology that can be applied to almost all business sectors in some way. An exciting technology that can improve society; a change that is not only convenient but necessary.