Building a Better World from Blockchain
What do you think of when you hear the word “blockchain”? Is it crypto?
At the recent “Women in Crypto: Tech, Innovation, and Digitisation” event co-hosted by Wirex and UKTN, leading speakers from the industry gathered to discuss how blockchain technologies are shaping our world.
From translating DeFi for the masses to tracking crypto payments across the darknet, women from companies as diverse as YAP Global, Wirex, MakerDAO, Terra Virtua, ECOMMPAY, and Elliptic shared unique insights based on their experience working in different sectors.
And while the theme of the evening was largely financial, it’s important to remember that while crypto may use blockchain, blockchain use cases are in no way limited to just crypto. In fact, blockchain is already powering the transformation of many industries, financial and otherwise.
Tracking charitable donations
Have you ever worried that the donations you’re sending to good causes aren’t going directly to those in need? Depending on where you are in the world, more than 85% of your donation could be going to administration or fundraising costs.
But, as a public ledger, blockchain offers transparency and accountability. In the case of homeless charity St Mungo’s, which partnered with social technology company Alice, this involved committing to social goals and enabling donors to see exactly how their donation is changing lives.
For disaster relief efforts, charities using blockchain can set up a dashboard. Each incoming donation would receive a blockchain address, which can then be tracked across multiple stakeholders, whether that be suppliers, logistics, or volunteers.
Blockchain also removes a lot of bureaucracy by mitigating the need for intermediaries, thereby saving on overheads and ensure more money goes directly to the cause.
Hedging against low interest rates
Not only has our purchasing power decreased, but 2020 saw interest rates in the UK hit all-time lows. Inflation, meanwhile, jumped to 3.2% this summer. So, in essence, if we’re keeping our savings in high street banks, we’re losing money.
The only financial advice you should ever take is to do your own research. That being said, depending on your risk appetite, there are blockchain-based alternatives.
Decentralised finance, or DeFi, is replicating traditional financial operations, like lending and borrowing, on the blockchain. What does this look like in practice?
There are several options, but the simplest to explain is lending. Crypto holders lock their assets in a smart contract, or a programme that self-executes when certain conditions are met.
The ecosystem works much like traditional finance, wherein some users act as lenders and others as borrowers, but the intermediaries are replaced with smart contracts, which cuts costs and allows direct access to financial services.
Securing medical data
If you’ve never thought about the security of your medical data, there’s cause for concern. In the past decade, more than 189 million medical records have been exposed. In 2020, there was an average of almost two breaches per day.
But if it’s a public ledger, how can blockchain help? Because blocks can be encrypted, it’s possible to record sensitive patient data on the distributed ledger without compromising patient confidentiality.
Estonia has been using blockchain to secure both public and internal records since 2011. Blockchain records any changes in real time, so the government is alerted and can react to any hacking attempts immediately.
And since the record is immutable, medical professionals are held accountable. In other words, doctors are unable to conceal any misdiagnoses.
Facilitating international money transfers
On average, sending money abroad costs over 6% of the transaction amount. If you go through a bank, it could be higher. Despite the cost, international money transfers are notoriously slow.
Blockchain has a solution. Crypto transfers are not only cheaper and faster, but with stablecoins, there’s no need to worry about volatility. Stablecoins are cryptocurrencies, but their market value is pegged to a stable external asset, like US Dollars.
Faster transactions at lower costs is certainly appealing, but the biggest advantage of blockchain remittances is the low barrier to entry. Anyone with an internet connection can send and receive money.
How? There’s an app for that. In fact, multiple apps, depending on location. These services rely on blockchains like the Stellar network or the Ripple network to facilitate global remittances.
There is a wide variety of blockchain applications. The legal sector, for instance, is using it to democratise legal representation. The music industry is tracking royalties. Policymakers are considering how blockchain could reimagine the voting process. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Plenty of other industries are exploring how to make blockchain work for them.
Optimistically, this suggests a dramatic rehaul of established systems and processes to ensure transparency, increase accountability, minimise costs, and widen access to a wider spectrum of consumers.
In other words, a better world for everyone.