Overview of Current Blockchain Applications: Advantages and Disadvantages

Blockchain apps are now developed daily and can be considered the most effective tools of the decade. Nevertheless, society still does not completely realize the brilliance of this technology, and this lack of understanding stands in the way of its ultimate success. The best way to recognize its potential is to analyze blockchain applications examples.

Blockchain Implementation Prospects

Whatever it is you do, blockchain is able to offer exactly what you need. For software developers, blockchain is the most interesting environment since the advent of the Java language in 1995. For businesspeople, blockchain has become a powerful catalyst for re-engineering business operations and external relations. Blockchain is not just an object, a product, a trend, or an opportunity.

The implementation of blockchain has great prospects. The idea behind it is simple but powerful, as it consists primarily of an innovative approach. Due to its modularity, this technology has an infinite variety of uses. This is not just about how to create a better network or bank or provide better service. It’s about utilizing it in our everyday lives.

Distribution of blockchain has expanded gradually, starting with developers and startups. They are followed by companies that have discovered the huge potential of the distributed ledger. Organizations that previously resisted the changes will eventually have to accept and utilize this technology.

To get to this stage, we need more users, more blockchain applications, and more developers. Over the long term, most users will not know or understand that blockchain underlies the software or service they use. Today, we will evaluate the application’s capabilities in terms of its advantages and convenience, not because it works on the basis of a database or another technology.

Blockchain Applications Overview

Blockchain is a software product that allows storage and conversion of data via the Internet, in a secure and transparent way without a central governing body.

Blockchain is:

  • a platform that completes transactions without involving a third party;
  • a system of distributed consensus and trust;
  • an infrastructure that provides authentication and notarization.

Hyperledger fabric blockchain node

Certainly, one of the greatest advantages of blockchain is traceability. The technology was built as an open ledger, filled in chronological order, distributed, verified, and protected against forgery by means of a distributed trust system, thanks to which everything registered there is accessible for tracking, and cannot be deleted. Thus, we can apply this principle of traceability in a variety of areas, for example, products, medicines, works of art, and precious metals.

Below, we will review blockchain applications examples in various spheres. All of these applications have something in common: almost absolute protection of transmission and archiving of information.

Energy

Electric power is not the main reason for the hype around the blockchain, but this, of course, is the industry in which the number of blockchain applications is growing steadily.

For instance, with the support of New York leadership, the TransActive Grid joint venture decided to combine energy and a decentralized economic system. A micro-network was created consisting of two enterprises: L03 Energy, which develops solar energy networks, and ConsenSys, which specializes in the blockchain. In this case, the goal is to enable citizens to regain the production of electricity by creating energy mini-communities. For this purpose, sensors record the history of energy creation at a particular point and transmit the data to the airspace blockchain. Smart contracts can then regulate the rules for using this energy as well as the pricing set by producers.

The main advantage of this blockchain application is that it will not only reduce dependence on state energy but will also encourage users to produce renewable electricity and invest in it independently.

There are some other prospective projects in this sphere. In France, Air Products and Engie launched an innovative blockchain technology partnership to certify the traceability of green electricity. Engie conducts similar experiments, in particular in the field of tracing flows (water, gas, and electricity), and has done so since 2015.

In July 2016, Ponton, a start-up from Germany, developed the Enerchain platform, the first European power market based on the blockchain. Enerchain allows the anonymous sending of orders. Partners click on a button on the screen to complete a transaction, and everything is done directly, without intermediaries. As of 2018, the company has worked with 39 power and gas traders, developing their peer-to-peer platform.

These initiatives are not just experiments. In fact, the use of micro-energy projects around the world could generate more than $40 billion annually by 2020.

Enerchain blockchain middleware

Works of Art

As for art, the Deloitte Luxembourg has developed a technological alternative to traditional paper testimonies confirming the origin of a work of art and its movement. This alternative is the ArtTracktive application. It contains a distributed register in which the origin and localization art compositions are recorded. ArtTracktive uses blockchain proof of concept, which manages the interaction between various parties involved in a transaction: artists, owners, forwarders, customs agents, art galleries and museums, and even potential buyers.

With regard to the art market, blockchain technology allows the recording of a reliable and fully traceable history, from creation to exhibition and purchase.

Its main advantage is that it solves one of the main problems of the modern art market: the unreliability and fragility of paper documentation as evidence of the work of art’s movement. Ampliative Art, one of the Ethereum blockchain applications, has a similar purpose.

Traceability of Food Products

The blockchain business applications can be especially useful in traceability of food and supply chain management improvement. In this area, several projects are involved, the most important of which is a project launched in October 2016 by Walmart, IBM, and Tsinghua University, all of which signed an agreement in Beijing. According to the contract, they would study the traceability and reliability of the food supply chain using blockchain technology. Here, we are dealing with three powerful market participants in the economy, where the traceability of food is very important and is constantly being improved. This is a great example of how blockchain can improve food supply chain security and efficiency.

Such blockchain applications in retail are especially valuable, as they help identify the food product origin and confirm its quality. Consumers now have the chance to discover all the details about the goods they buy in just a few minutes. 

food supply chain
Anti-Piracy Blockchain

Business models of the cinematography industry are currently trying to change the situation of loss of revenue through copyright infringement. Blockchain technology solves this problem.

veredictum blockchain platform

This is the goal of the Australian startup Veredictum, which created an application for the film industry, and the Revelator startup, which developed one for the music industry.

Veredictum offers producers the ability to store films, scripts, and other works in their blockchain-based application using a tokenization system. How does it work? You add the content you want to manage, certify ownership, license it, and set the terms of its distribution. Thus, any illegal use of this information will be automatically recognized, as it will not be confirmed by the blockchain.

This platform addresses one of the most significant problems since the very beginning of the Internet era. Piracy and theft are complex issues and must be approached wisely. With blockchain, this project contributes to the preservation of the film industry and the copyrights of its film-makers.

Storing Personal Data

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers A. Pentland and G. Süskind decided to develop the Enigma privacy protocol for distributed applications with the function of secret contracts. The key features of this solution are the ability to share information with third parties without compromising information and protecting it in case of a leak or cyber attack. The first variant of the Enigma project implementation was the Catalyst application (cryptocurrency trading algorithm) with the use of statistical analysis. The latest version of the application provides integrated support for Bittrex, Bitfinex, and Poloniex trading platforms.

Enigma node blockchain appThe most interesting way to use the Enigma, according to the authors of the project, is to take advantage of its ability to analyze information and perform machine-building on encrypted data. Therefore, in the present time, the project is busy developing new solutions — in particular, the marketplace of personal information, calculations with genomic information, IoT with a high degree of privacy, evaluation of potential thefts, and more.

Cadastres

Cadastres allow their users to map the boundaries of objects, providing the state with the ability to levy taxes in case of inheritance or sale. In the absence of a land cadastre, not only does the state lose income, but landowners cannot confirm that certain territories belong to them. For example, in Africa or Latin America, many countries either do not have a cadastre at all, or their cadastre is unreliable.

To solve this problem, ONG Bitland announced the launch of a digital land registry project in Ghana, which will allow owners to survey their land using GPS and record land ownership certificates through the application. They’ve developed a range of blockchain applications using decentralized models, such as Bitcoin’s blockchain, to bridge the gap between government and undocumented areas.

cadastral blockchain app market

The main principle of this project is that all participation is voluntary. This means that there is personal consent and/or community consent as well as approval, a timestamp, and government approval. This process will be stored in the blockchain app for subsequent reference for each statement and transaction.

Payments

In the coming years, one of the most important issues in the field of banking will be countering fraud when making electronic payments. However, despite bank-developed security measures like 3D-secure technologies, scammers continue to operate. This is an area all participants in banking operations would like to improve.

At present, the most successful initiative, apart from Bitcoin, is Ripple. Ripple allows you to conduct secure transactions instantly, almost without commissions, of any size and fail-safe. It supports any currency, cryptocurrency, product, or any other valuable object, like bonus miles, minutes of mobile operators, GPS distances, etc.

Ripple’s xRapid payment solutionTheir solutions include:

  • xCurrent is for settling international banking transactions with end-to-end tracing.
  • xRapid is for financial institutions willing to reduce liquidity costs and improve user experience.
  • xVia is for all financial institutions that conduct payments within various networks utilizing a common interface.

According to developers, XRP is able to conduct up to 1,500 transactions per second, 24 hours a day and 52 weeks per year, which is 100 times more than Ether and 250 times more than Bitcoin. The system is capable of being on a bandwidth capability comparable to Visa.

Voting Solutions

When it comes to voting with the help of a blockchain, Belem, one of the Ethereum blockchain applications, is the French startup, that offers a proven solution. The main innovation in voting with the help of this blockchain application is that voices no longer depend upon centralized power, but are written into a peer-to-peer system that provides the type of transparency ideal for voting.

Here are the main benefits of voting with Belem:

  • Trust: you can participate directly in public discussion without reliance upon third-party intervention. Voting becomes an absolutely democratic act.
  • Security: voices registered in the record are protected from unauthorized access.
  • Transparency: participants can make sure their votes have been taken into account.
  • Simplicity: voting takes two minutes, thanks to this intuitive, easily accessible solution.

The Belem authentication module also provides the ability to determine the origin of an industrial patent or idea, keep a birth certificate or death certificate, prove the right to housing and financial market data, and confirm solvency and creditworthiness. There are opportunities to digitize diplomas, certificates of land ownership, or physical objects (keys, cars, works of art, stocks, bonds, etc.).

Belem Ethereum network

Yet another startup in this sphere is Voatz, which allows citizens to safely vote during elections of any format. Users can even vote via their smartphones. Previous attempts to vote over the Internet have failed because of fundamental problems related to security, identity verification, and the anonymity of voting. Voatz, with the use of secure biometric blockchain technology, attempts to solve these problems and streamline the voting and identity-verification processes.

Education

Blockchain technology has a lot of applications in the world of learning at the individual, institutional, group, national, and international levels, and in very different contexts: in school, college, university, Internet education, business, enterprise, and the creation of knowledge bases.

A vivid example of this is the Holberton School in San Francisco. This software development school was the first in the world to implement blockchain technology creating a blockchain app to give out their diplomas and store data about them. This system uses encryption and two-factor authentication to create a diploma, sign it, and put it in the blockchain database. The school always provides students with paper copies, but the system generates a decentralized compensation number (DCN), allowing future employers to carry out a check.

The main advantage here is that certificates stored on the blockchain are much simpler to check by employers, which will contribute to the fight against fake certificates and false CVs.

Blockchain Mobile App

The Blockchain.info is a blockchain mobile app for Android, which allows users to work with the Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum key system, including creating new transactions while viewing only Bitcoin networks blockchain system. In this blockchain mobile app, there is also a possibility of exchanging cryptocurrency between users, due to the integration with the ShapeShift service.

Merchandising

Blockchain Merchant is a free blockchain merchant app that allows your growing business to instantly accept Bitcoin payments in the retail. This is the perfect app for restaurants, bars, cafes and all retailers accepting bitcoin. It works like this: you install the Blockchain Merchant application, link it to your bitcoin wallet address and your business can immediately start accepting bitcoin. This blockchain merchant app is available in English, French, Simplified Chinese, Arabic, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian, and Japanese.

Insurance

Insurance is one of the most complex activities in terms of mutual trust. The first transnational insurance policy using blockchain technology was developed by American International Group, Standard Chartered Bank, and IBM. IBM built a solution using Hyperledger Fabric. The insurance rules approved by insurers from the United Kingdom, the United States, Kenya, and Singapore were recorded in a smart contract that provides an overview of the terms of insurance in real time.

The advantage of blockchain applications in insurance is that it allows all participants to have an unambiguous view of all financial facts and offers selective visibility, based on their accounts. Users can track and record events and payments in any country associated with the insurer.

Retail

Blockchain applications in retail can also be useful in the supply chain management.
The Provenance company has created such a solution and successfully introduces it in small supermarkets. On the scale of global companies, this task is much more difficult, and all major store chains are working on its solution.

The Everledger company came up with an interesting way to use blockchain technology. All data on diamonds, including information on related transactions, are recorded in a special register to which Everledge users have access.

Provenance blockchain app

Advantages and Disadvantages of Blockchain Applications

The main advantage of blockchain is automation of control over transactions security. Blockchain prevents fraud and abuse and can solve many other problems, depending upon the implementation method and use.

Here are some advantages of blockchain applications:

  • Resistance to failures, since the vulnerable point of failure, is distributed within numerous nodes, making the system more failure-resistant.
  • Invulnerability to network censorship, since there is no central authority that any party could address and demand the removal of data. Parties cannot even block the domain or IP addresses of the application, because a decentralized application does not need specific addresses or domains. Of course, they can track an individual network user by IP address and disable them. But if the peer-to-peer network is large enough, completely disconnecting the application becomes an impossible task, especially if the nodes are scattered across different countries.
  • Users are more likely to trust an application that is not controlled by one governing body capable of deceiving them for their own benefit.

Of course, every system has both merits and drawbacks. Consider the disadvantages of blockchain applications:

  • Difficulties with updating and eliminating errors. The application must be updated on each node of the peer-to-peer network or forked if parts of nodes don’t accept amendments.
  • Robustness of network for dedicated purposes. Any application has some business logic behind it. In general, this logic defines how new application must work in terms of business requirements. Blockchain, by nature, employs strict logic that doesn’t allow redesign without loss of benefits, which leads to the need for logical business changes to be acceptable to the blockchain solution.
  • Sometimes, applications need to verify the identity of the user. Since there is no central authority that assures the identity of the user, the development of certain decentralized apps can become a serious problem.
  • Difficulty of development. It is necessary to apply very complex protocols for achieving consensus and allow for scaling from the very beginning. One cannot hastily implement an idea, hoping sometime later to add new features and expand the application without forking or redeployment of the network.
  • Normally, applications do not need third-party APIs to store or retrieve data. Your decentralized application (Dapp) should not depend upon the API of centralized applications, but they can depend on other Dapps. In theory, this sounds good, but it may cause difficulties in practice.

A Final Word

It should be understood that blockchain is a revolutionary technology that will rebuild many present business models, completely transform the economy and society, and make trust a scientific and technological novelty. Nevertheless, the potential for blockchain technology and its full range of use is still in the development stage.

Of course, in reviewing all these projects, we can understand that blockchain technology isn’t going to disappear. It has come to deeply transform our economy and society.

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