The Next Tech Disruption Is Just On The Horizon
Marc Andreessen, the co-creator of the first commercial web browser, Netscape, and a big investor in technology ventures thinks the blockchain is “the distributed trust network that the Internet always needed and never had”. Since virtually anything that requires a record of human exchange can utilise blockchain technology, the possibilities for the incorporation in various industries are vast and innumerate. Fundamentally, blockchain enables data exchange systems that are cryptographically secured and irrevocable. By transferring data onto the blockchain network companies are able to streamline, simplify and increase the security of their database systems and transactions.
With that mind, here are five major sectors already gaining major headway toward upending traditional core sectors from banking to healthcare, often times known to be the slowest to fully harness the power of new technologies.
Many banks still run on old legacy core processing systems, some even dating back to the 1970s, stuck on the adage, “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it”. Mark Warrick, director of creative and design at the heavily funded startup, Thought Machine, told Business Insider that bringing the technology up to date is the "hardest problem in banking" because of its critical function. Warrick, who has worked as a software engineer at Deutsche Bank and RBS, said: "Banks can't deliver to their customers the innovations that you're seeing in other sectors simply because their fundamental core systems are not able to react."
To address this, Thought Machine, led by two former Google engineers is in the midst of developing a operating system along with 50 other engineers to built a modernised computer system for all types of banks, tailored as necessary. Their VaultOS platform draws on the latest technological innovations such as cloud infrastructure and blockchain. Based on the "smart contract" technology it allows people to tailor their own products such as mortgages, loans, and overdrafts. As the technology continues to mature, banks are likely to start embracing this new platform, finally doing away to their ancient systems.
Government Database Systems
Government bureaucracy and red tape is notorious for being laborious, painstakingly slow, opaque and prone to corruption. Implementing blockchain-based systems can significantly reduce these inefficiencies while simultaneously increase security and transparency of government operations. In October last year, Dubai government announced its plans to go paperless, aiming to transfer all its government documents and transactions on the blockchain network by 2020. If achieved it would result in a massive reduction in paper consumption as well as reduce the 25 million work hours required in handling paper documents annually.
Healthcare Data And Medical Records Storage
One of the major challenges hospitals face is the lack of a secure platform to share data, making them often the targets of hacking. As such, the healthcare industry is one sector that is ripe for disruption by blockchain technology, to increase the accuracy and speed of diagnosis by allowing real-time patient data to be securely transferred across various sectors within the healthcare system. In March last year, the Estonian Government’s e-Health Foundation together with the leading software security company that developed a digital signature system based on blockchain technology, Guardtime, announced a partnership to accelerate the development of blockchain-based management of patient healthcare records. It has since transferred 1 million patient records onto this system.
On the commercial end, the promising blockchain startup offering industry solutions, Gem, launched the Gem Health Network in partnership with Philips to enhance the seamless sharing of patient data over a secure blockchain network among different healthcare operators. The singular unifying focus among the numerous startups offering these solutions for the healthcare industry is the goal to create a universal decentralised state of data, accessible to institutions and individuals to verify identity and patient records in real-time.
Keeping track of land and property ownership is yet another relatively low-tech affair. Due to historical and legacy reasons, many industries still rely on paper to prove legitimacy in the ownership of assets. However, paper records even those kept online, can be easily altered and lost. To curb these vulnerabilities in the real estate sector, Sweden’s land registry, the Lantmäteriet, is the furthest along in leveraging blockchain to track land registries. They estimate a taxpayer savings of $106 million per year based on reduction of fraud, eliminating paperwork and accelerating the process.
It is estimated that artists lose up to 86% of their proceeds from their music due to illegal downloading. Coupled with the emergence of music streaming services like Spotify that notoriously offer paltry royalty rates to the artists, the profession has never been less lucrative particularly for newcomers than now. However, several startups are coming up with ways for musicians to get paid directly from their listeners, without having to give up large percentages of sales to platforms or record companies. Notably, the British artist, Imogen Heap, has created a blockchain-based streaming platform called MYCELIA to make it possible for artists to earn royalties on their music without going through a record label.