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Current trends in blockchain use and technology

If you told Satoshi Nakamato (whoever they are) in 2009 that one day companies would scramble to adopt Blockchain technology, they would have likely said… “of course.” Blockchain is an incredible technology that has far more applicability than solely serving as the public ledger for cryptocurrencies.

Although it has been a long and often rocky road, blockchain has both huge and diverse potential for enterprise solutions, government organizations, and the way individuals live their lives. From its use in healthcare to application in the supply chain to the opportunities of fintech, blockchain can save lives in the real world.

Of course, you don’t have to always rely on others to save your online data from attack. There are a few simple things you can do yourself to help prevent cyberattacks. According to Coinbox, one thing to do is to make sure you always have unique and strong passwords — that means no dates, no pet names, no family member birthdays. 

What are some of the ways you can expect to see the blockchain employed over the next few years? Some of the latest investors in the technology might surprise you.

Blockchain Shores Up Supply Chains

Patching together complex supply chains is a task that plagues virtually all industries. What’s more, failing to track a supply chain correctly can have deadly consequences. When there’s an E.coli outbreak, businesses need to scramble to find the cause and, often, they find that there are multiple causes.

Blockchain’s distributed database is a way to simplify the supply chain without reinventing the wheel. It’s so promising that Walmart is part of a group pioneering a blockchain solution to track food safety. Once fully operational, Walmart’s food supply system will enable anyone in the supply chain to trace individual items straight back to the farm. The fact that the database is tamper-proof and open to all means that the process is also transparent.

Why is this such a big deal? To start, it’s going to save companies a ton of money from the outset by carefully laying out the full supply chain without requiring new and expensive enterprise software. More importantly, it can protect consumers by making it simpler to find the source of food safety issues. Healthcare professionals and regulators can act faster when racing against the ticking clock, and farmers can work to remove the affected produce from the supply chain ASAP.

Blockchain Is Fixing American Healthcare

The American healthcare system is notorious for being expensive and highly fragmented. Every healthcare organization has its own data, and none of it matches. Then, there’s the security issue: healthcare data is incredibly valuable to criminals: it’s worth $60 per file compared to $2-$5 for a credit card number. Blockchain has the potential to solve both of healthcare’s biggest problems, which makes it one of healthcare’s biggest trends.

The public ledger solves these issues by opening up patient data to both the patient and the healthcare network without incurring new risks. It should solve some of the problems that the government tried to stem with the mandate of the electronic health record (EHR). But it also gives patients more control of their data because any edits require the approval of all parties.

Deloitte says that blockchain technology has the potential to make healthcare in the U.S. (and around the world) what it was always meant to be: a patient-centred experience that allows trustless collaboration. And first up could be the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which started using blockchain and AI to begin a more formal understanding of the over one million contracts it issued across the department’s portfolio over just 18 months.

Blockchain Could Transform the IRS

Speaking of a government-led segue into the blockchain, given the way the IRS has treated Bitcoin and cryptocurrency generally, you’d be fair to assume that the government would treat blockchain the same way. However, the IRS would be remiss to dismiss the technology as something wholly connected to cryptocurrency when some say blockchain could save the IRS from the crippling cost of keeping up with tax code changes and taxpayer expectations.

The implementation of an IRS blockchain could transform all the things the people — and some members of the government — hate about the IRS. The IRS is expensive to run, vulnerable to hacks, and devastatingly slow. Blockchain’s distributed ledger could help the IRS work faster and be more cost-effective.

Like other blockchain applications noted here, the IRS version would need to be private. The financial data secured within is too sensitive for a public ledger. However, it can work together with other financial institutions. One example provided is the transfer of 401(k) funds to an IRA: not only can the consumer and banks use blockchain to complete the transaction, but the IRS can get immediate access to the data. Would you owe fewer taxes? Probably not. But would it cost less to collect taxes? Yes, and that’s still a win for the taxpayer.

Blockchain Could Unite the World

Some of the biggest problems faced in commerce, healthcare, and government are the fragmented nature of current data, the security issues associated with it, and an extreme lack of interoperability. Some of these create headaches (i.e. at the IRS) but others directly impact people’s physical health.

Blockchain has the potential to begin to solve all these problems — and more — among both private firms and government organizations. And the breadth of organizations currently pushing the envelope with the technology provides a helpful glimpse at what’s to come. 

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