Will blockchain deliver across industries? Or will the tech fall flat?

Crypto Valley reported last week that there has been an increase in the number of blockchain companies.

The latest CV VC Top 50 Report found a moderate rise in from 810 in the first half of 2019 to 842 in the second half. The report’s fourth edition takes into account blockchain companies with over 4,400 employees, and includes new additions, such as Bittrex and CasperLabs.

Compiled by investment firm Crypto Valley Venture Capital (CV VC), the report also found that the valuation of the top 50 blockchain companies in Switzerland and Liechtenstein adds up to $25.3 billion.

Following this news, Information Age wanted to explore whether blockchain will deliver across industries by speaking to a number of industry-experts.

Based on their comments, it was evident the tech will not fall flat.

1. Supply chain

Perhaps the most obvious application for blockchain is found in the supply chain.

Today, there are already a number of use cases in production.

“The supply chain is a great practical example of blockchain in action,” confirms Todd Moore, vice president of Encryption Products for Cloud Protection and Licensing Activity, Thales.

“With the ability to span across multiple industries, it ensures products can be traced, authenticated and verified on digital ledgers. In the pharmaceutical industry, organisations can apply blockchain technologies to ensure tailored drugs are delivered to the right person. By utilising a secure IoT platform to make sure medications are the right quality and don’t fail during the supply process, which can ultimately affect the efficacy when taken by the patient.

“Through blockchain, these companies are able to verify where their product has travelled, and which components have been added at each transition point. In industries where each product can use components from tens or even hundreds of companies at one time, blockchain technologies ensure that the whole supply chain is more transparent, accountable and secure.”

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2. Financial services

Financial services is another industry where the application of blockchain technology is already in use, especially with the booming fintech arena.

Daumantas Dvilinskas, founder and CEO of fast growth London based fintech, TransferGo, explains that blockchain is already delivering in financial services.

“At TransferGo, we use Ripple’s blockchain technology to establish real-time communication between us and our banking partners in India, allowing consumers to send money to family and friends or make international payments immediately. The technology replaced older incumbent communications systems, where typical transfer to India took around two — three days and decreased costs by up to 90% in some instances.

“It’s just one example of how blockchain technology has the power to make money move as quickly as information moves today. It’s been a huge success and proves that blockchain provides tangible customer value.”

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There are challenges, however, as Akber Datoo — CEO of D2 Legal Technology — highlights.

Blockchain and distributed ledger technologies have “run into problems in respect of scalability and interoperability,” he says.

“In particular, there are significant issues in respect of a lack of data governance for client, transaction and legal data in financial services which have to date, held back blockchain from delivering on its true potential.

“Firms have realised this is the case, and there seems to be growing market impetus to develop the required standards and utilities that would address this — such as the work being done by ISDA on the Clause Taxonomy and Library in the OTC derivatives space. These initiatives should allow blockchain to better deliver within financial services in the next two to three years.”

Also see: How blockchain can fix the broken venture capital model

3. Transport

Transport, with the advent of autonomous vehicles, is an industry ripe for disruption. Perhaps more so that any other industry.

Irra Ariella Khi, CEO of UK-founded Zamna, the blockchain-enabled data verification platform used by airlines and governments, believes that “blockchain principles of decentralisation and immutability make it ideally suited to tackling data verification and security challenges.

“In the context of international transport and border security, we are dealing with highly sensitive data sets and a need for 100% data accuracy. In the aviation industry in particular, we are reliant on silos of independent data that cannot be shared or connected. That’s where we can use blockchain as an enabling layer to connect these silos and extract value for airlines without exposing or storing any of the underlying sensitive data.

“In practice, this means that airlines and government agencies can verify and match a passenger’s identity across jurisdictions without ever having to share their personally identifiable information. This streamlines transport operations, cross-border government compliance, and ultimately facilitates the passenger experience.”

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4. Healthcare

In an industry under increasing pressure, healthcare needs technology solutions that help reduce the strain. But, as with the introduction of any new technology, “the adoption of blockchain on a widespread level will be gradual,” advises Dr. Nick Lynch, investment lead at Pistoia Alliance.

He says: “In the healthcare industry, blockchain enables healthcare organisations to store and share patient data securely with better privacy protection, since they have reassurance it cannot be tampered with — whether through intention or accident — lowering the risk barriers currently associated with data sharing and collaboration.

“Healthcare professionals who are typically more risk averse would be more likely to support wider data sharing and collaboration, which in turn opens up even greater possibilities in drug discovery and development based on the volumes of data available.

“Blockchain also offers patients great access to, and control over, how their medical data is used. In the future patients could not only give companies access to ‘blocks’ of their data for specific research purposes (potentially for payment), but it can help ensure electronic health records (EHRs) are kept secure and private, safeguarding the transferral or sharing of patient medical data with other institutions or specialists.”

He does suggest, however, that the technology has gone through a ‘peak hype’ — “with groups now looking at more practical use cases covering a breadth of healthcare applications. This includes interest in health supply chains, digital identity and preserving privacy.”

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René Seifert, co-founder of TrueProfile.io, also believes that blockchain has the potential to revolutionise the UK healthcare sector and ease pressure on staff shortages by authenticating the credentials of healthcare professionals more quickly, “particularly the verification of job qualifications and background checks of prospective healthcare professionals who wish to work within the UK healthcare system,” he says.

“For example, TrueProfile.io uses blockchain technology to give applicants full control over their documents, both online and offline. By storing employee records on the blockchain, applicants can easily provide potential regulators and NHS recruiters with their verified employment data, such as employment history, letters of recommendation and educational records. This eliminates the continual churn of verification requests on employers and educational institutions every time a healthcare professional applies for a new role.

“The verification can be done once and can be shared with the relevant healthcare employer, regulator or professional body for the lifetime of the individual’s career. The latter are able to securely verify the validity of the shared verification in real time against the Ethereum blockchain.

“More importantly, however, for the regulators, industry bodies and NHS recruiters themselves, using blockchain also offers an online on-demand Primary Source Verification (PSV), ensuring that candidates’ credentials are authentic and issued by an accredited institution.”

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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