Unravelling the Mystery Of Blockchain, and How Industry Can Benefit

blockchain-9At the CompTIA EMEA Member and Partner Channel Conference 2017, Julia Moiseeva, director of FinTest, delivered a fascinating insight into blockchain, a mysterious and much misunderstood technology, and its potential for businesses. She began the presentation by providing an overview of what blockchain is and how it works.

So What is Blockchain?

Essentially, blockchain is a decentralised, digitised public ledger of all transactions that occur over the system. Everyone owns a part of the blockchain, enabling trust by consensus. At least 51 percent of the other parties on the blockchain verify the transactions that occur across it, meaning it is nearly impossible to change, and is therefore secure.

The technology was developed as a reaction to the financial crisis in 2007, where people grew sceptical of banks as a central authority of monetary transactions. Yet, until recently blockchain, and its cryptocurrency Bitcoin, were typically associated with the dark Web and crime. This is now changing as the technology evolves rapidly.

New technology such as Ethereum is taking blockchain to the next level by developing smart contracts, where terms of a contract between parties are embedded into the blockchain and automatically execute once certain conditions are met. This means that users can’t go back on their word, dodging a direct debit payment, for example.

How Can Businesses Take Advantage of It?

Moiseeva outlined how businesses can start to take advantage of this technology, and how a number of startups, venture capitalists, governments and regulators are investing heavily in this area.

She then presented three example case studies of industries that could benefit from blockchain:

  • The first case study discussed was one from the shipping industry, which is a sector that is very tightly regulated and involves a large amount of logistics and administration. This is an industry that could benefit from blockchain’s ability to automate processes. Earlier this year, IBM and Maersk unveiled the first industry wide cross-border supply chain solution on blockchain, which could save the industry billions.
  • The second case study focused on the insurance industry, which deals with many low cost and high value transactions. This year, AXA announced that it is offering insurance using blockchain technology. The industry also has a dedicated initiative, called B3i, which is committed to exploring the use of distributed ledger technologies.
  • The final case study addressed the potential for blockchain in the retail estate market. This is a sector that involves complex transactions. In Sweden, a trial ran saw the land registry put on blockchain. This resulted in the reduction of purchase completion from several months to a few days. Theoretically, this could save the Swedish taxpayer $100 million a year.

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