Blockchain Beyond Cryptocurrency: A Brief Guide to the Future Part I
Using blockchain technology apart from its original application, cryptocurrency, isn’t news any longer. Numerous projects around the globe come up with new ideas as to how distributed ledger technology may be applicable beyond just transacting values.
Possible implications of blockchain technology might bedazzle those unprepared for emotional shock. They span from making modern-day red tape procedures futile and invisible to creating a brand new world where your pillow tells your coffee machine you woke with a thought of having a nice good cup of latte macchiato.
In a series of features, we’ll attempt to describe what developments in blockchain revolution are underway, and what can they result in over the course of next decades.
Part One of the series features blockchain applications in the realm of paperwork.
Red tape has been plaguing humankind for thousands of years, and over time people came up with some solutions to facilitate bureaucratic procedures. However, most of those solutions were very centralized, and they did not tackle the problem of counterfeiting. Indeed, a skilled forger is capable of making, say, an ID indistinguishable from that officially issued. The same is true for securities, property papers, and so on. However, blockchain technology, even though it is far from being mature and well-established, has already provided an insight as to elimination of a gargantuan bureaucratic apparatus created for approval of papers.
Here are only a few examples of how blockchain can already replace red tape procedures.
Recently Learning Machine partnered with MIT Media Lab to develop a solution for creating, sharing, and verifying credentials on bitcoin’s blockchain. Currently, they state that the project is undergoing some development phases, however the teams note that the resulting solution would ensure theÂ proper level of security for confidential information of any kind found in certificates and academic transcripts.
Learning Machine Co-Founder and CEO Chris Jagers stated:
â€śThe goal of our collaboration with the MIT Media Lab is to empower individuals with shareable credentials that can be used peer-to-peer and verified as authentic. The current system for sharing official records is slow, complicated, expensive, and broken for everyone in a myriad of ways. The first generation of students to grow up entirely during the Internet age have started applying for college, and many admissions officers can share stories about applicants trying to text photos of their academic records. The expectation, while seemingly humorous, conveys an honest impression about the way things should work. It should be that easy for people to share certified records directly with others and have them trusted as authentic.â€ť
The main idea behind the project is to enable forever-lasting storage of the learners’ official documents without any need to keep their physical copies. This would potentially help any individual to keep full control of all their personal documents, not just academic certificates.
This February, Mizuho Financial, one of Japan’s three largest banks, has announced it intends to integrate a blockchain-based solution for internal record-keeping purposes.
â€śWe are pleased to be among the early adopters of blockchain technology in Japan to make our processes and workflows faster and more efficient,â€ť Toshitsugu Okabe, deputy president and executive officer of Mizuho Financial Group, stated back then.
The bank intends to begin a â€śstrategic programâ€ť in partnership with IT consulting company Cognizant. The latter will develop a customized blockchain solution for Mizuho to enable the companies and subsidiaries of Mizuho to securely exchange sensitive data. The move also seeks to cut expenses and enhance internal processes and interactions.
The initial plan for the partnership between Mizuho and Cognizant is to connect Mizuho’s Tokyo and New York offices. However, given Mizuho has subsidiaries in other regions, including Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and South America, the blockchain solution may possibly be implemented there afterwards.
Startup BlockNotary develops blockchain-based solutions for identification and verification of users. They have already partnered with Russia-based payments system Pay-me this January to enable identification of merchants willing to install a PoS terminal at their sales points. Earlier companies had to interview each customer in person, and have several levels of checking. Now, the customers are interviewed online, which significantly accelerates the identification procedure and reduces risks of dishonest usage of PoS terminals.
â€śFollowing BlockNotary’s integration, a merchant has only to undergo a little online interview, which generates the video’s hash. The resulting hash is then recorded on the blockchain, and thus a service obtains an immutable proof of the customer’s intent and their identification during the interview. If an identified customer is suspected for some reason, the video will be applicable in the course of investigation,â€ť BlockNotary’s official blog reads.
Later on, BlockNotary developers have announced forthcoming release of Blocknotary Dashboard, a blockchain-based construction kit for personal identification tools. Blocknotary Dashboard features options for creation and monitoring of ready interviews.
Other projects related to blockchain technology’s employment in user identification include recent Russian developments in biometric identification of bank customers. There are at least two known projects focused on that purpose. One of them deals with the exchange of customer identification data between organizations. The second one is focused on remote user identification with biometric data.
Emer Group created a platform for app development dubbed Blockchain Engine. Its main distinction from other existing platforms is said to be in the fact that it provides readily operational services for e-businesses and network security. Basic solutions available at the platform would enable the creation of any blockchain-related apps with high reliability and speed ratios.
The fully operational ecosystem has been initially released for public on April 25. The company stated their motivation was to remove barriers hindering the way to a wider spreading of distributed technologies. Emer Group sees community participation as a key factor in development process;
Initially, the engine will focus on digital copyright; Internet security; distributed advertising networks; uncensorable DNS; proof of title; and the Internet of Things.
National Settlement Depository of Russia has developed and tested blockchain-based E-proxy voting electronic voting system’s prototype. According to the press release, E-proxy voting is an advanced technology for corporate operations maintaining electronic exchange of data and documents between securities owner and issuer.
Eddi Astanin, Board Chairman at the NSD said:
â€śOver the course of recent ten years, global financial infrastructure has faced challenges that require substantial revision of approaches towards reliability, security and speed of information systems. It’s is clear to us that ignoring rapid development of fintech and restricting ourselves to mere updating of impetuously outdating platforms is risky for steady development of national financial system. Fortunately, Russian developers are among the best in global fintech industry. We have proved it once again by successfully implementing a working prototype of blockchain-based electronic voting system. After implementing blockchain in bondholder meetings, the experience may be employed in other fields of the NSD’s activity.â€ť
Public Property Management
A Ukraine-based project has developed an automatic system for holding online auctions for leasing and selling of state-owned property using blockchain technology. The project’s representatives stated that the essential goal of the system is to maintain transparency and equal opportunities for state property leasing/selling market players. Among other aims of the project they cited removal of corruption components in state assets management. According to the project’s spokespersons, the system is set to employ smart contracts.
The platform itself is a private blockchain incorporating diversified authentication and identity proving system. The developers’ current task is to make access of fake / malevolent participants to the bidding impossible or at least complicate it to the greatest possible extent.
The platform has been launched in test mode this February.
In the second part of the series, we will consider some disruptive applications of blockchain technology in the sci-fi realms of smart houses, the internet of things, and artificial intelligence.
by Jenny Aysgarth
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