Bitcoin has been on a roller coaster ride in its price, its value reached as high as $20,000 in late 2017 to as low as $6,000 within a time frame of just six months. The highly volatile nature of Bitcoin is certainly a blotch on its reputation and certainly this could be why Goldman Sachs’ head of Global Investment Research, Steve Strongin holds the view that most cryptocurrencies ultimately will not survive in the long run and compares it to the dotcom bubble where only a few companies around that time survived. While Bitcoin’s volatile nature is a cause for concern, the fact that the cryptocurrency has never faced any issue concerning its security is noteworthy. The reported hacking incidents in Bitcoin exchanges, the place where the coins can be traded for assets, typically, fiat currencies was due to the lax security measures taken at these exchanges and is not a failure of Bitcoin’s technology. While Bitcoin is inherently built on a technology that is making great waves for its security features, Bitcoin exchanges are not set up the same way. Nevertheless, Bitcoin has grown in popularity and as a consequence, it has garnered significant interest for its underlying technology. Riding on Bitcoin’s fame, its technology, the Blockchain, is now creating a greater hype than Bitcoin itself.
Blockchain technology is the only reason Bitcoin has been shot into the limelight. What made Bitcoin attractive was its decentralized feature, wherein, no single regulatory body can completely control it, making it a truly democratic currency. In addition, Blockchain set a new standard for transparency by removing the requirement of a third party in the transactions and bringing down the transaction fee to a minuscule amount. All these features together ultimately propelled a convincing case for the creation of cryptocurrencies and its mining. However, experts are divided in their opinion as to how successful cryptocurrencies could be in the future. Blockchain, on the other hand, is now going beyond the hype it has created and has found its way into many potential applications. According to a report, the global blockchain market is expected to reach $7.59 billion by 2024. Following is a quick glimpse of the features that outline the reasons for jumping onto the blockchain bandwagon.
- Decentralization – Blockchain is widely known by the name “distributed ledger technology” and as it suggests, it is about decentralizing authority from a central body. Decentralization is made possible by having all the data on a public ledger in a peer to peer network. Hence, when a transaction is made, it is seen and verified by all the peers in the network, rather than only the centralized authority. Thus, it removes intermediaries and facilitates direct peer-to-peer transactions.
- Immutability – One of Blockchain’s strongest suits is its immutable nature. Due to its decentralized nature, no single entity has the authority to validate a block. This validation is done by establishing a consensus among its peers. Hence, only through a majority consensus can blocks be added to the existing ledger. Therefore, in simple terms, as the network is completely hosted by its peers, once a block has been generated, verified and added to the chain, it is impossible to make any modifications to it without having the consensus of the majority of peers in the network.
- Security – Blockchain is considered to be one of the most secure ways of making transactions. Along with all of the above, blockchain also employs cryptography. Each block is digitally signed by a unique private key and is made secure by a cryptographic hash in order to be linked to the previous blocks to form a blockchain.
Due to the above features of the Blockchain, it has attracted interest in a wide range of applications such as digital payment transactions, bank operations, IoT security, supply chain management, ID management etc. Following are few companies that have very interesting and real-world applications of blockchain technology:
Looking to completely redefine the way location addresses are currently represented, Naviaddress seeks to create a unique digital ID for any place and object. By using only digits to represent the address, Naviaddress is envisioned as a universal addressing system that reflects the modern society. The Naviaddress platform is currently being built on the Blockchain that can support token based transactions for services such as to create, modify or own a digit address. As of January 2018, it is reported that there are already 1.5 million Naviaddresses registered. As Naviaddress only constitutes digits, it removes the language barrier since currently most local addresses are expressed in the local language. As per ICObench, Naviaddress has raised close to $17 million through their ICO.
Lead by Selvam VMS and Kumar T, DiscoveryIoT is an IoT based supply chain startup that is set to transform the supply chain business through their solution. By creating an IoT tag called Cliot and utilizing a community of smartphone users to process the information received from the tag on those phones, Discovery is essentially building an IoT network. Interestingly, Discovery makes use of blockchain in their network to secure it and facilitate certain functions in it. Blockchain is used in order to serve four major functions which are pairing Cliot tag with phones through private key authentication, securing data on the phones, maintaining the anonymity of the smartphone user by de-granulizing data and the disbursement of rewards through smart contracts. Currently, Discovery is in the pre-sale phase of their DIS tokens which will be followed by ICO rounds that begins in September 2018.
Medicalchain is a healthcare startup that makes an excellent use case for Blockchain in the health sector. They are building a platform that will allow a secure storage and use of medical records of patients. With this solution, users can provide access to their digital medical record to any healthcare professional from anywhere in the world at a time of need. Besides, each interaction with a user’s medical data is recorded as a transaction in the blockchain making it a secure and transparent platform. They are also developing a telemedicine application and a health data marketplace alongside this platform. The telemedicine application allows users to consult a doctor remotely for a small fee, payable directly to the doctor. The marketplace allows users to sell their health record to third parties for medical research purposes. Medicalchain has secured over $20 million through their token sale.
As seen above, Bitcoin has paved way for an even bigger and better implementation of the Blockchain. While cryptocurrencies have become notorious for their association with many criminal activities, here is Blockchain, the same technology that powers cryptocurrencies is now proving to be worth all the hype created around it and it does seem like Blockchain is here to stay.
Featured Image: DepositPhotos/ denisismagilov