Blockchain: More Than Just Money

…

When you hear the word blockchain, most of the time it tends to be associated with money or other areas of the finance industry. While the technology has tremendous potential in this area, there are numerous other fields where it could be just as revolutionary. Here are five non-financial areas where blockchain is already being used or studied.

Digital Voting

Hate going to the polling booth? With blockchain technology, it might not be long before you can do it from the comfort of your own home. Considering how much of our lives we live through the internet, it seems strange that we still can't use it to vote. One of the biggest blockades to online voting has been the issue of security and how to make sure that there is no voter fraud.

Blockchain technology provides a worthwhile solution. Estonia has already run a pilot alongside Nasdaq, which showed that the technology can be used to securely authenticate individuals. The trials have only been small scale, but they show that there is potential for the technology to be applied to voting, particularly if countries have the political willpower to implement it.

Land Registry

While land disputes aren't particularly common in Western countries, they can be quite problematic in the developing world. Because of poor record keeping, owners often can't prove that land is theirs. Large scale corruptions also means that fraud and theft are quite common–all one has to do is pay the official off, or the official can just take it for themselves.

In Ghana, Honduras and the Republic of Georgia, governments and startups are experimenting with using blockchain technology to solve these problems. Using a decentralized ledger that cannot be altered makes property ownership much more transparent. It also makes fraud nearly impossible.

Digital Identity

Being able to prove our identities is a crucial part of the modern world. Whether we want to go on an overseas holiday, get into a bar or take out a home loan, we need to be able to prove who we are. Traditionally, we have done this with paper documents, although many countries have began implementing digital aspects into their identity systems.

Blockchain technology can take this one step further. Paper documents can be forged, but a blockchain-based system would allow identities to be authenticated in a secure and mutable manner.

Distributed Cloud Storage

Cloud storage has taken over in recent years, but these services are usually run by multinational corporations. They have central servers that provide single points that can be compromised. On the other hand, distributed cloud storage uses client-side encryption, so that only the end user can access their files. Decentralized storage offers greater security because users don't have to trust their cloud storage provider.

Smart Contracts

Nobody likes lawyers–they are expensive and dealing with them is always stressful. What if we could just cut them out of the equation? Ethereum and other smart contract platforms provide ways to facilitate, execute and enforce contacts. Rather than having to rely on lawyers, courts and the police to make sure that the other side holds up there end of the deal, smart contracts can do it automatically as soon as certain conditions are met. It reduces the complexity and costs of making deals.