In recent years, blockchain technology has witnessed unprecedented growth and adoption mostly within the financial sector. A blockchain refers to a distributed public ledger or database of records of executed and shared digital events among participating parties. A consensus of the participants verifies each transaction in this ledger.
Bitcoin, for which the technology was originally devised, is the best-known example of blockchain technology. Blockchain applications are not limited to cryptocurrencies, however.
Here is an overview of five exciting alternative applications of blockchain-based technologies that you should look out for as an investor.
1. Public Notary Services
Blockchain technologies can be employed in the verification of the authenticity of documents without the need of centralized authority. This is crucial in any legal solution. Relying on central authorities as in conventional document validation models presents obvious security concerns. Document certification technology can be vital in three key aspects of a document: Proof of Ownership, Proof of Existence and Proof of Integrity.
The blockchain-based notary public services are legally binding, as they are counterfeit-proof and verifiable by third parties. Employing blockchain technology for notarization ensures that a document and parties seeking certification remain private. Using cryptographic hashes to publish publication proof is the next level of notary time stamping.
Proof of existence services store the cryptographic fingerprints of the documents linked to the time they were submitted and not the actual documents. Services that currently use blockchain technologies for notarization include Stampery, Block Notary, Ascribe, and Proof of Existence.
2. The Music Industry
Over the last decade, the music industry has undergone massive changes in light of internet growth and availability of streaming services. These changes have affected all players including artists, publishers, labels, streaming service providers, and songwriters. Always convoluted, music royalty policies have become even more so in the internet era.
This is where blockchain technologies come in, and companies like Muse are building new monetization infrastructures in the music industry.
These technologies can be used to establish a comprehensive distributed database of ownership rights information on a public ledger. Royalties accruable for each player as stipulated by smart contracts can be documented in the database. Smart contracts automate the interactions between different addresses by defining the relationships between the stakeholders.
3. Decentralized File Storage
In recent years, cloud storage services such as Google Drive, Dropbox and One Drive that facilitate storage of documents, video, music and photo files have grown in popularity. However, cloud storage solutions face certain challenges in terms of privacy, data control and security. One has to trust third parties with confidential files.
Blockchain technology can eliminate the need for central control thus increasing security, data control, and privacy. It also tackles traditional data outages and failures.
Storj, for example, offers a peer-to-peer (P2P) distributed cloud storage platform based on blockchain technology. It enables users to share data without depending on the services of a third party data provider. Users can share personal disk space and unused internet bandwidth.
4. The Internet’s Infrastructure
Governments and organizations control DNS servers, and this leaves room for censorship, hijacking or spying of consumer internet use. Blockchain technology can be used to maintain the internet’s DNS/phonebook in a decentralized framework where each user has the same DNS data.
An alternative blockchain technology that can be employed to implement decentralized Domain Name Servers (DNS) that are free of censorship is Namecoin, which uses bitcoin’s proof-of-work algorithm.
5. A Decentralized Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) technology is gradually gaining popularity in enterprise and consumer spaces. Most IoT platforms operate on centralized models whereby hubs or brokers manage interactions between devices. This proves to be a challenge in the autonomous data exchange between the devices. As such, moving towards decentralized IoT platforms is the best option. Blockchain technology enables the implementation of such IoT platforms through trusted and secured data exchange and record keeping.
The technologies serve as a general ledger, keeping secured records of all data exchanges between smart devices. Examples of services that employ this technology are Autonomous Decentralized Peer to Peer Telemetry (ADEPT, developed by Samsung and IBM) and Filament.
There are numerous other alternative applications of blockchain technology including but not limited to healthcare, anti-counterfeit solutions, insurance, supply chains, enterprise solutions and technology enablers.