A blockchain is a decentralized shared database or ledger technology that records transactions in blocks across a decentralized network without the need for a middleman or intermediary. Each block in the blockchain contains a timestamp and a link to a previous block in the chain. Once recorded, the data in a block cannot be altered retroactively. The ledger can only be changed when there is a consensus among the group. This makes it very secure and also eliminates the need for a central authority to approve/authorize transactions.
A lot of people think Bitcoin is Blockchain. It is not. Blockchain is the technology behind Bitcoin. In fact, Blockchain technology does not just apply to the financial industry alone. Blockchain is currently being used in a lot different technology solutions and domains successfully. Below are a few examples of how the distributed public ledger system is effectively used by different non-financial companies:
Genecoin is a solution that helps backup your DNA on blockchain. There are several medical use cases that require DNA information to be available and a system like Genecoin makes it really easy to do it.
Utilizing the security features of blockchain and the fact that blocks are tamper proof, a solution called uProov helps timestamp photos and videos and stores them on blockchain. The solution can come in really handy during a situation where you want to prove something happened around you on a particular date, at a specific time.
Everledger is a solution used for tracking individual diamonds from mines to consumer. Legality of diamonds is always a big question with proof of ownership locked in paper, and difficult to track. To address this concern, Everledger has gone on to create tamper-proof digital ledger for diamonds.
Ascribe allows artists to claim ownership and issue numbered, limited-edition prints of all kinds of artwork in their digital form using the Blockchain. It even includes a marketplace and assists in buying and selling art through their website, removing the need for escrow.
Slock is a competitor to Airbnb, the 65 Billion dollar startup. Slock is eliminating middleman leveraging blockchain, allowing renters to use their smartphones to lock and unlock apartments. The key difference between Airbnb and Slack is that Airbnb has intermediary and Slock does not. It is a great concept leveraging smart contract (a feature of “Bitcoin 2.0” technologies such as Ethereum).
Blockchain, as a technology, can be useful for anything that needs to store and keep accurate record of transactions in decentralized ledgers. It will continue to evolve and will be used across multiple industry domains. More and more businesses will adopt the technology and within a span of 5-10 years the technology will become significant for almost every organization.