Seeds of future trends are sown in the evolution of blockchain, piloting on blockchain and results thereof. By now, almost every possible use case or potential of blockchain has been discussed in research reports, articles, TV shows and social media. Most large organizations are looking at this technology seriously, whether this wave of blockchain poses danger of tsunami to their businesses or it is perfect wave, which they can surf and extract pleasure of profits. Every technological reform has always been realized on the hindsight e.g. world before and after internet, world before and after Google, etc. Most technological advancement coming from large IT companies, come with force e.g. new versions/updates in MS products, Apple phones, Intel CPUs, where people are literally forced to adopt changes. However, technological advancement coming from open source community is not forceful. To that extent technological advancement from private corporations is push type, where as it is pull type, in case of open source development. Applying the same logic to Blockchain being an open source initiative, it will move with its own pace, much like Linux.
It will have its place, but not necessarily that of leader, because much depends on the large corporations, who currently are custodians or intermediaries of the existing setups and their businesses may get impacted by blockchain. Another factor to our mind, implementation of blockchain is one way street. We don’t see that people can have option of rolling back blockchain implementation, which can be easily done in current computing environment. Hence, piloting will have to be rigorous one.
There is rampant corruption across countries at every level of governance, be it release of subsidies, tax compliance, public benefits, etc. Because of this menace people are deprived of the benefits, they are entitled to. This can change with implementation of blockchain in governance. It will enforce transparency and trust in the governance. However, precisely this could be the challenge for acceptance of such a system by powerful people in governments. However, if implemented properly, it will change the governance mechanism for good. It can optimize delivery of public services and create value for its citizens. In will add efficiencies in governance. Public blockchain, can record all activities & transactions on the decentralized database permanently and more so, securely. By allowing people to track the movement of government funds, government spending, subsidies, etc. blockchain can establish accountability for state and create a cohesive environment across layers of governance and public life and restrict misappropriations of public tax money. Blockchain not only can deter corruption through accountability, but it can also do so by bypassing the middleman entirely. It can be deployed to manage international missions of humanitarian aid, refugee management, medical aid, etc.
Every nation has a national ID system for its citizens to first prove he/she is a legitimate citizen of the country, then to rationalize services and processes in areas such as social services, taxes, local voting and administration but also to promote private services by stimulating the digital economy, all while reducing costs and adding transparency. However, there have been frauds recorded, often abusing this system. Blockchain can be deployed in National ID systems such as India’s Aadhaar. It can be deployed with ‘Privacy by Design‘. approach. It is all the more important that digital identities be handled with the utmost care, keeping human values front and center. It can lead to be truly a digital economy, wherein tax compliance and public services such as subsidy transfers, utilities, etc can be seamlessly managed. Given the immutable nature of the technology, there can’t be any fraud committed on this system and if committed, it will be caught in real time.
Every project has few stakeholders – e.g promoter of project (private or government), contractors, beneficiaries. Every project is governed by project specifications and framework within which every stakeholder play their roles. Currently project management has lot of pitfalls due to many challenges e.g. lack of clarity about work specifications, payment delays, lack of failure trail, etc. If blockchain is deployed in project management right from agreement to delivery under binding principles of smart contracts, the execution will be smooth. At every stage, process and activities get registered on blockchain, leaving audit trail for failures, if any. By automating payments through escrow account, upon completion of stages, it will create an environment of dependability, which arises out of trust embedded in the system. It will dilute the risk perspective towards project of the stakeholders themselves.
In customer relationship management entire value chain is people dependant. Hence, there is a risk due to negligence or acts of omission, commission, etc. Such vulnerabilities are impacting businesses adversely. Customer Relationship Management will have a utility of Permissioned/private blockchain, which can be implemented across value chains of the customers and suppliers. It will create an atmosphere of transparency and clarity across various organizations, which are blockchained. Every immutable transaction recorded on the system, be it purchase order, invoice, shipment documents, etc. will facilitate audit trail. Smart contracts can be deployed as closed loop control system for all processes, e.g. invoicing, payments, etc.
There is an alarming state of education, in developing countries. There is low accountability for the institutions, teachers and even students. There are vulnerabilities around entire training process, examinations/ assessment and certification. Also existing paper-based certification systems may be subject to loss or fraud. If blockchain is embraced by or forced up on educational institutions, most activities can be streamlined right from admissions to certifications. Frauds, if tried can be traced quickly. While, actual certificates and other relevant documents could be in “data lakes”, but references can be part of blockchain. There will be transparent system of records, easy for institution to mine from and students & alumna access. Same applies to learning processes in corporate training, in terms of keeping track of continuing professional development and learning. Blockchain could potentially take data from conference attendances, courses & other forms of learning and store them securely in reputable systems. Imagine a blockchain of a student or a professional, which showcases entire learning curve, across the education institutions, detailing what happened and how it happened.
There are large no of NGOs working in social sector with different focus areas such as health, sanitation, agriculture, women empowerment, malnutrition, etc. However, biggest challenge for the social sector is fund raising, due to issues related to non-transparency, lack of clarity of past work, financial compliance, etc. There few miscreants in social sector, as in every field, because of them people look at every NGO with suspicion. Good NGOs can adopt blockchain for all their activities, financial recording, fund-raising, subsequent deployment of funds and all such activities. It will reflect transparency in their operations and offer audit trail for every activity. Thereby donors can get details of utilization of their funds. Same applies to Crowd-funding in social sector, a transparent link between donors, NGOs or fund raisers and beneficiaries will ensure growth of the eco-system.
Given vulnerabilities of voting machines and allegations of malpractices, election procedures, world over are under cloud of doubt. This can be eliminated with deployment of public blockchain in election process. Credibility can be achieved with immutable transactions and verification of digital identity of voter through private keys, while maintaining anonymity of voter. Every casted vote can be audited, while maintaining secrecy of voter identity. Some countries are already piloting this technology in electoral procedures.
According to Credit Suisse report, a survey conducted by the World Economic Forum found 58% of executives anticipate 10% of global GDP to “be stored on the blockchain before 2025.” That’s the year Credit Suisse expects the technology to reach full maturity. At the moment, the technology is in the middle of the prototype and pilot stage. In 2018, the bank said it will be a critical year. “Blockchain solutions will come into production as the “low-hanging fruit” of the industry is addressed – i.e. where blockchain’s use is immediately obvious, such as payments and trade finance,” the bank said.