If you’re like most people, the word ‘blockchain’ is likely to be immediately associated with Bitcoin. Of course, blockchain is the technology that allowed this crypto, as well as others, to work in the real world and so the association makes sense.
That being said, there is more to blockchain technology than cryptocurrencies alone. Over the past decade, interest in blockchain has expanded well beyond Bitcoin - including in public and enterprise settings - and these days blockchain applications may be found in many different sectors of the economy. As a broad technology that allows value and data to be transferred in a secure manner, we continue to explore and push the boundaries of what blockchain can be used for.
If you’re unsure what a blockchain is, it’s worth taking a look at our 101 blockchain guide. If you’re ready to discover some of the wider real-world applications of this tech, read on!
Ticketing for sporting events
Turning first to sport, there’s a possibility that blockchain will be utilised as a way of controlling the ticketing system for the next Olympic Games in Paris in 2024. This is currently being explored following the huge disruption that was witnessed during the UEFA Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool in May this year. The incident saw fans being sprayed with pepper spray, and many were unable to enter the stadium. The key issue, according to reports, was the fact that fake tickets were circulating. Thousands of fans turned up with fake tickets and the match was delayed by 30 minutes.
By using a blockchain ticketing system, tickets would be sent directly to spectators via a text message. It would feature a QR code and would only be activated when in proximity to the events that you have paid to see. This would make ticket fraud all but impossible and increase the safety and security of fans, avoiding the chaos we saw at the UEFA Champions League final.
Action on climate
At present, monitoring the carbon footprint of individual companies is no easy task. Even when companies are acting openly, there is always the chance that data contains errors and this means that authorities aren’t given a clear picture as to where the problems are originating from.
The EU is exploring the use of blockchain to overcome this issue. Blockchain is all about transparency, traceability, and accountability. It can assist with collecting data that is extremely accurate and that can’t be tampered with.
The University of Cambridge is also building The Cambridge Centre of Carbon Credits, which will be a decentralised marketplace using the sustainable Tezos blockchain.
If you’re interested in sustainability in crypto, you can find out more on the Zumo sustainability hub.
Who can forget the uproar of the 2016 US elections? With accusation after accusation that the voting had been rigged, chaos followed again in 2020, albeit the latter claims were unfounded. As things stand right now, there will always be the chance that votes can be rigged. Implementing blockchain aims to do away with this risk.
Blockchain technology can be used to register the details of voters, verify their identities, and allow electronic votes to take place. This would ensure that each person could only vote once and the record would be open to the public to inspect.
Healthcare professionals, and organisations, hold an array of confidential information about anyone who has ever been treated. This information is vulnerable and can be hacked with relative ease. It’s not just this information that is at risk: it’s the whole systems that the likes of the NHS operate on. When these are hacked, it has the potential to bring everything to a standstill.
In fact, two British hospitals used blockchain technology to keep tabs on the storage and supply of COVID-19 vaccines. This enabled them to monitor the temperature of vaccines from the factory freezer all the way to the patient receiving the shot, ensuring safe patient care.
Blockchain offers a level of security that can’t be matched. As well as keeping systems safe, it allows for the safe and secure transfer of information.
As more people learn remotely and seek qualifications online, the centralised model of education is no longer sustainable. Blockchain-based ePortfolios allows students to take ownership of their personal records and academic identity and employers can quickly use it to verify qualifications.
Starting from the academic year of 2022-2023, the Repton Family of Schools in Dubai will be the first in the world to introduce a blockchain portfolio that captures its students’ educational journey. The Repton Passport will serve as a digital record and catalogue diplomas, letters, certificates, transcripts and other documents that cannot be tampered with. These can then be shared with universities and employers.
The music industry
Finally, blockchain is being explored to help solve some of the many problems within the music industry, which is often criticised for its lack of transparency. Blockchain could, for instance, prove the ownership and copyright of music, and its automated processes could cut out the middleman in things such as royalty payment processes. This means more money and data goes directly to the artists.
Open Music Initiative (OMI) is a non-profit organisation that uses blockchain to identify and fairly pay rightful music owners. This has already been adopted by Soundcloud, Red Bull Media and Netflix.
As you can see, blockchain can be used in many different ways to manage and verify sensitive data.
While many of the applications are still in their exploratory phase, we can expect to see many more innovative models and instances arise in the years ahead.