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.
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.
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.
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.
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.