Blockchain technology has gone through a decade of ebbs, flows and a lot of initially sluggish development. But it's with the rollercoaster years of 2017 and 2018 in the rear-view mirror for crypto that companies have started to really take the underlying innovation seriously.
The announcements by companies like Facebook, JP Morgan, along with governments both on a regional and national level, show that blockchain technology has a lot of real use cases just waiting to be capitalized upon.
While there are blockchain-related projects that we have the good fortune of learning about in more detail, there are ways of leveraging the technology that isn't otherwise apparent or simply not discussed commonly. The value of blockchain cannot be overstated, and it's worth looking into just how it can be applied to every level of society to everyone's benefit.
The most obvious really is how it is transforming the relationship that individuals have with their money. The value of a digital asset such as Bitcoin in the hands of a user in the western world is markedly different than having to deal with a bank or PayPal.
By its very nature, blockchain-based cryptocurrencies are completely objective; as in they're wholly owned by the user and can be put to use for anything they want. Save it, spend it, trade it, that's the users prerogative.
This is a very commonly known application of blockchain. What is less so is what it means for the significant proportion of people who remain detached from our current financial system. Known more commonly as the 'unbanked,' of which there are billions, cryptocurrencies provide a much more accessible way of accumulating wealth.
In obtaining crypto, these unbanked individuals can place themselves in a far more favourable place than having to contend with either highly inefficient or inaccessible banks.
Whether its people fleeing from war-torn Syria, or attempting to combat child trafficking, blockchain has a very real use-case in providing wholly unique, immutable stores for people's identities.
The fact that it provides a framework that allows for an individual to quickly access a digitalized version of their ID, along with being highly secure and immutable, demonstrates just how blockchain can be used to prevent the headache of losing vital identification.
Organizations like ConsenSys, for example, have provided real use-cases in the past. Back in March 2018, the company was awarded the #Blockchain4Humanity Challenge for creating an identification solution to help combat trafficking in Moldova.
While we've tapped into a little about international payments, we haven't really dived into the world of international remittances. In total, it constitutes a more than 6 billion dollar industry and is still rife with issues that end up costing its millions of users both time and money.
At this moment in time, moving money from one part of the world to the other often comes with an inflated premium on cost, or can take weeks to actually come through. Having a blockchain alternative would allow for the action to take place between the two individuals, and incur either a significantly reduced cost, or none at all.
Real use cases of this include the recently secured partnership between Ripple and MoneyGram, where the former's payment solution (xRapid) would be put to use to streamline the process of sending money overseas.
Are there other applications of blockchain technology that you can think of? Let us know!