It has become clear over the years that blockchain is a lot bigger than the cryptocurrencies for which it was initially designed. While cryptos have become progressively more relevant (arguably in 2020 in particular), blockchain technology appears to have nearly boundless potential to influence different parts of our world. For that reason, we’re posing a simple question: Where will it be most significant?
This is one sector we’ve actually covered in the past, in the post ‘Can Blockchain Bring the Supply Chain Into the 21st Century?’ There, we pointed out that little has been done to streamline (or modernise) the supply chain in some 50 years. This naturally leads to avoidable inefficiencies, and the hope is that blockchain technology can address them. As stated in the aforementioned article, blockchain “acts as an immutable ledger” that can record any change in possession of goods along a supply chain. This can improve transparency, promote trackability, and even — through blockchain-based smart contracts — lower the costs of transactions. The result could be worldwide supply chains across industries that are both quicker and cheaper to operate.
The healthcare industry may also see significant benefits from the spread of blockchain, particularly given the current transition toward more telehealth practice. Forbes addressed this topic in an article last year, noting that digital healthcare requires “better patient care, faster and more accurate analysis, and on-demand access to medical data.” Those are some fairly broad points, but together they present a vast need for the efficient, secure, and reliable exchange of information. Blockchain technology is ideally positioned to handle that information, such that patient data and relevant medical information is readily available when needed.
Compared to the entire healthcare industry and global supply chains, forex trading might seem to be somewhat niche. The truth, however, is that blockchain applications in forex trading would affect millions around the world. According to FXCM, the foreign exchange is the “largest” and “most liquid” market in existence. It consists of unfathomable amounts of wealth changing hands at all hours and between traders spread out around the world. This makes for another significant opportunity for blockchain technology to be widely deployed. There are forex trading platforms even today that are starting to use the blockchain to handle transactions, and if the idea continues to catch on, this technology will become a modernised foundation for the busiest trading market on Earth.
Blockchain technology has been discussed as a potential boon for democratic governments. The idea is that elections held via blockchain would allow more people to vote (given that they could vote online), while maintaining total integrity. Right now, there’s still debate over how well the idea would actually work. The Verge wrote just this year about the doubts surrounding an existing app aimed at facilitating blockchain voting. But the core concept still has potential to revolutionise voting systems around the world.
Of course, it may also be true that blockchain’s greatest impact will ultimately come via cryptocurrency. Right now it appears as if some of the applications discussed above will ultimately be more impactful. But if in the future cryptocurrencies (or alternative resources like them) replace ordinary money, the blockchain will essentially be behind the majority of the world’s monetary resources. This final possibility may be an unlikely outcome, but it’s not out of the question!