Cynthia Johnson | GUEST WRITER
Co-founder and CEO of Bell + Ivy, marketer, speaker and author
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
In 2018, everyone seems to have a Bitcoin story. Remember that guy you read about who became a millionaire overnight? But the Bitcoin story is much more significant than this. Blockchain, the technology underlying and enabling Bitcoin, has the unique ability to change the world. Blockchain is an open, distributed database of transactions – think of it as an unhackable digital accounting book – and it has endless possibilities for making everything we do more secure, efficient and quick.
- Energy grids.
What if you could replace America’s ancient, crumbling energy grids with automatically executing, efficient, green and affordable energy systems that could withstand the ravages of hurricanes and other climate change-triggered extreme weather events? Blockchain offers a path to that future. Already, in Brooklyn and in neighborhoods around the country, innovators are experimenting with blockchain-enabled smart grids that allow anyone with a solar panel to buy and sell energy, executed using automated “smart contracts” based on data gathered through smart meters installed in homes. All transactions all verified and secured by blockchain, and no middleman utility company is needed – cutting prices and increasing efficiency.
- Real estate.
Anyone who’s ever purchased a home knows how many steps — and how much of a headache — that process entails. But blockchain offers the potential for doing the whole thing online, securely, and all at once. Sellers could securely transfer over the title and deed, while buyers would send money via cryptocurrency. Blockchain would also provide a way to send property records to the appropriate government agencies. I asked Rawad Rifai, cofounder of Taurus0x, exactly how blockchain applications impact real estate, and he responded, “Blockchain’s applications in real estate speak to the heart of the technology, its unparalleled and revolutionary potential to conduct instantaneous and completely secure transactions,” said Rifai. “There’s no reason this could not be expanded to retail, entertainment, tourism or any of our day-to-day transactions.”
Blockchain could create a future in which all our health data — doctor visit records, prescriptions, emergency room visits, shots, X-rays and insurance data — is secured and can be easily shared from doctor to doctor. Nearly everyone changes doctors throughout their lifetime. Imagine having a seamless network of secured records that would ensure that your information travels with you, from birth to end of life.This system could also save your life. Emergency room doctors could be authorized to access your information about allergies, blood type, and even genetic information, to make informed decisions about your care if you were incapacitated and unable to communicate. This system could also be revolutionary in improving health outcomes in developing countries that do not currently have a centralized or digitized health record database. Earlier this year, five healthcare groups started a pilot program surrounding blockchain and its uses in healthcare.
Blockchain could create the potential for the Internet of Things–enabled smart cities. Street signs, traffic lights, cars and other moving and static objects would be embedded with sensors, which would collect and send data to a system that would reroute buses, trams, emergency vehicles and other municipal vehicles to find the quickest routes and avoid traffic. The end result? Less congestion, faster commutes and lower carbon emissions. Blockchain-secured sensor data could also help drivers find open parking spots or charging terminals, pay traffic tickets, and report car crashes or maintenance issues.
As demand for MOOCs and distance education grows, we need a better system to verify graduates’ educational records. Blockchain could essentially act as a notary, ensuring that people can’t forge diplomas and fool prospective employers. Transcripts, diplomas and certificates could all be secured and stored by blockchain and could be easily sent out to employers and other academic institutions. This would help boost the credentials and reputation of nontraditional educational organizations, and help employers ensure they are hiring the right person for the job.
Many industries will feel the positive impact of blockchain. Some will move faster than others, but many industries will eventually need blockchain. The future is wide open, and the opportunities are endless. The most difficult part about blockchain won’t be growth; it will be human adaptation and the ability to hire great tech talent for these new companies.