A blockchain, in simple terms, is a time-stamped series of a fixed set of data that is regulated and controlled by a network of computers – which are not owned by any single entity. Each of these sets of data & information (i.e. block) are safeguarded and inter-linked using cryptographic principles (i.e. chain). This blockchain network is not under the control of any central authority — it is the ideal definition of a democratized system. Owing to the fact that it is a shared and permanent ledger, the information in it is transparent for anyone and everyone to access. Therefore, anything that is validated on the blockchain is by its very nature see-through and all parties involved are responsible for their own decisions.
The clear-cut benefits of using blockchain technology can be elucidated on below –
- Enhanced time-effectiveness due to real-time transactions. On a blockchain, all activities and transactions occur in real-time. No time is wasted in processing and administration of transactions since there are no middlemen processors.
- Additionally, the direct nature of transactions eliminates the burden of intermediary and overhead expenditures – which generally occur in third-party transactions.
- The transparent nature of a blockchain ensures that the risks of cybercrimes, frauds, and tampering are mitigated to a great extent. The problem of cybercrime and hacking has plagued the financial sector for years. The process is highly secure due to decentralized and cryptographic blockchain protocols.
- Blockchain technology ensures a clear and systematic recording of activities and transactions.
In the past few years, blockchain has started cementing its applicability across a host of industries. For example, in the case of the financial services industry, blockchain technology has already been put to use in many revolutionary ways. It essentially clarifies and streamlines all the functions associated with asset management and payments by implementing an automated trade cycle where all entities would have access to the same unique exact same data about a transaction. This eliminates the need for brokers or intermediaries and ensures effective management of transactional data.
Blockchain can also play an important role in the healthcare sector. This can be done by improving the privacy, safety, and interoperability of the critical healthcare data. Blockchain has the capability to address a myriad of challenges in the sector by simply enabling protected transmission of healthcare data among the different entities and individuals taking part in the process. By using blockchain technology, healthcare data can be kept in distributed databases by encrypting it and using digital signatures which essentially ensures privacy and authenticity. It holds the key to streamline basic management processes – not only in healthcare but nearly every discipline which mandates the need for management and regulation. The proper linking and sharing of data with blockchain enable better management of data between multiple departments.
There is an immense opportunity for blockchain technology to be implemented in the retail sector. This includes functions such as ensuring the originality of high-value goods, negating the possibility of fraudulent purchases, finding stolen items, facilitating virtual warranties, maintaining loyalty points and streamlining supply chain processes. Similarly, the application of blockchain can thoroughly transform the travel and hospitality industry. It can be used to change money transactions, maintaining important documents like passports and other critical identification cards, reservations and managing travel insurance, loyalty and rewards.
The lack of knowledge and pre-understanding of the Blockchain concept and is the key obstacle of implementing blockchains in the above-mentioned industries. Using blockchain also require a cultural shift from orthodox methods, as it involves decentralising the entire process. The global business environment is yet to unravel the complexities of the Blockchain concept to its full potential. However, with the continuous researches and investigations happening in this realm, the business world will soon enough realise the great capabilities of this technology. One of the prominent institutes offering a specialised education aiming at throwing light on the benefits of blockchain technology and how it can transform our world is UPES. The B.Tech CSE with a specialisation in Blockchain Technology in Association with IBM is a 4-year course aiming to educate students about this growing trend.