How Far Will Blockchain Impact How We Do Business?

Worldwide spending on blockchain is set to top $2 billion in 2018, according to the International Data Corporation. Stacey Soohoo, research manager, customer insights and analysis at IDC, said: “The year 2018 will be a crucial stage for enterprises as they make a huge leap from proof-of-concept projects to full blockchain deployments.” There is, clearly, […]

Worldwide spending on blockchain is set to top $2 billion in 2018, according to the International Data Corporation.

Stacey Soohoo, research manager, customer insights and analysis at IDC, said: “The year 2018 will be a crucial stage for enterprises as they make a huge leap from proof-of-concept projects to full blockchain deployments.”

There is, clearly, a lot of time, money and effort being spent in tapping into the potential of this technology. But, how can we expect to see the benefit of all of this? How far will blockchain go in terms of changing the way we do business?

Finance

Having originally been met with some scepticism in the banking sector – probably due to its disruptive nature and the presence of scams targeted at early adopters – blockchain is increasingly being harnessed by financial institutions to change the way they do business.

Perhaps most obviously, this can help to add speed and security to the process of transferring money, something that everyone from a holiday-bound consumer to a novice investor dabbling with a forex demo account through to a FTSE100 CEO can appreciate.

Yet, as the FT notes, the process of clearing and settlement, the verification of a customer’s identity and the raising of syndicated loans can all be made more efficient with blockchain.

Traceability

Yet, to focus solely on banking and payments would be to ignore the broader scope of the benefits of blockchain.

In industries where ‘traceability’ is crucial, this provides a clear, immutable record of a financial transaction. Examples of where this is necessary include the charity sector – where organisations need to prove that donations ended up at the intended target and, perhaps most pertinently in a business context, for diamonds.

For diamond companies, being able to create and manage a record for customers and clients will enable them to be clear that their product in genuine and sourced responsibly – two things that will help reputable firms to stand out from companies engaged in practices that have threatened to tarnish the sector.

Privacy

While speed, security and a transparency are clearly important, so too is privacy, especially in sectors such as healthcare where it’s vital to protect patients’ data and, typically, there are issues with out of date security software and records systems.

While the US’ private healthcare system has already embraced blockchain, the NHS could benefit too. As Tech UK notes, tracking medical test results in real time, sharing data between medical teams in different locations for research purposes, speeding up compliance paperwork processes and handling documentation for short-term staff could all be done quickly and – crucially – with the required level of privacy. This doesn’t just benefit the NHS but also a number of science and healthcare companies that rely on the NHS for work as third parties.

In some respects, blockchain’s real power is not necessarily that it changes what can be done as a business. Rather, it enhances the way in which companies operate in the digital age, allowing to carry out the processes and practices that they have developed in recent years and allows them to be done quicker, safer and cheaper.

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