6 global blockchain use cases
Exciting blockchain projects are taking place across the globe. Many businesses are already looking at the ways this technology can help them become more secure, efficient and profitable, but there are also some innovative projects that are helping wider groups of people.
Here we take a look at both, from applications that speed up business processes through to those helping small communities gain access to key services.
Africa – Sierra Leone’s government election is the first to employ blockchain technology
Sierra Leone’s recent government election was the first to use blockchain as part of its voting process.
One region’s results were registered on Agora Technologies’ blockchain ledger, ensuring that election data was third-party verifiable and protected against the possibility of tampering.
Election results were made public on the organization’s website, allowing citizens to monitor results within just a few hours of the polls closing.
Agora Technologies, which calls itself ‘a foundation for digital democracy’, was an accredited observer of the election. It believes blockchain offers elections a level of security and transparency that other technologies cannot.
“Other electronic voting machines are ‘block boxes’ that have been increasingly shown to be vulnerable to security attacks. For that reason, many US states and foreign nations have been moving back to paper,” said Agora CEO Leonardo Gammar. “If you believe that most countries will use some form of digital voting 50 years from now, then blockchain is the only technology that has been created which can provide an end-to-end verifiable and fully-transparent voting solution for this future.”
Asia – Providing rural communities with access to banking services
Despite the existence of more than 400 regulated rural banks, 56 per cent of Filipinos live with limited access to banking services as they are neither connected to electronic finance services nor to domestic and international money transfer networks.
In late 2016, UnionBank began looking into blockchain and saw the technology as a chance to improve financial inclusion in the Philippines. This led to the creation of Project i2i, which stands for ‘island-to-island’, ‘institution-to-institution’ and ‘individual-to-individual’.
A simpler implementation to the complex system of crypto-cash, for the pilot of Project i2i, digital tokens are used to instruct and settle remittances between participating rural banks by consolidating the messaging, execution, settlement and accounting of each transaction through one platform.
“Many people in the Philippines are still financially excluded and we’re looking to change that,” says Justo Ortiz, Chairman of the Board for UnionBank. “In partnership with ConsenSys and running on the Kaleido platform, we successfully accelerated Project i2i into an active pilot without the complexity and cost of starting from scratch.”
Australia – Peer-to-peer energy trading
Original Energy, one of Australia’s main power suppliers, has trialed peer-to-peer energy trading, using anonymized and historical customer data.
The trial used blockchain energy market provider, Power Ledger’s P2P solar trading platform, which lets customers directly trade rooftop solar energy. A past pilot scheme showed that households could save hundreds of dollars a year on their power bills by cutting out the middleman.
“Peer-to-peer energy trading presents an opportunity to unlock enormous value for consumers, it disintermediates the energy supply model putting consumers in direct contact with other consumers,” said Power Ledger Managing Director David Martin.
“Currently, blockchain technology is the only solution for a full P2P market. The blockchain is needed when we have multiple parties transacting in near real-time, such as within the energy industry,” points out Power Ledger Communications Specialist Cameron Drummond.
“In existing systems, a market operator is responsible for reconciliation and settlement. In distributed energy markets the blockchain provides fast, immutable settlement so we can pin the financial transaction to the physical transaction. In a complex transactive environment, only the blockchain can support low cost, fast and accurate reconciliation and settlement. Immutable records of physical transactions provide the certainty required to support autonomous financial settlement.”
Europe – Digitizing PMI’s incentive payouts
Tobacco giant Philip Morris International (PMI) used to have an expensive process of distributing anonymous and temporary vouchers as incentive payouts. The company turned to blockchain to overhaul this process, replacing the numerous back office processes necessary to complete a small payout with one digital flow of money and information.
Working with blockchain technology firm Billion on a number of success pilots in Poland, PMI has already seen benefits in the form of an improved audit trail and streamlined back office processing.
“Our sales representatives report that the digital experience of collecting incentive payments results in a better understanding of our trade program, providing a commercial benefit,” enthuses Marek Gebski, Manager of Commercial Strategy at Philip Morris Distribution, Poland.
“With a blockchain-powered solution delivered through a mobile app, PMI dramatically streamlined the payment process and made payout instant; a far cry from the cumbersome pre-paid card system that previously existed,” says Andrzej Horoszczak, CEO and Founder of Billon.
“Indeed, all its users need to get up and running is a name and email address. Behind the scenes, the blockchain technology is seamlessly integrated with legacy banking systems – including ATMs – making redemption of payouts simple and easy, but also completely scalable.”
North America – Developing a digital identity system for travelers
Canada’s government is involved in piloting the Known Traveller Digital Identity (KTDI) system. This uses biometrics, cryptography and blockchain technology to give travelers control over their information, providing them with the ability to share relevant data with authorities before and during their travels.
In collaboration with the World Economic Forum and Accenture, a prototype was launched at an event at the start of this year, and there are now plans for Canada to partner with the Netherlands on a pilot project to test the potential of this digital identity system.
“Innovation is key to enhancing global competitiveness, mobility and productivity,” Canada’s Minister of Transport Marc Garneau said at the Annual Meeting in January. “Leveraging new technological advancements can support risk-based approaches to public safety and security, making air travel more efficient while improving the travel experience.”
South America – Supporting local farmers using data-driven technology
Blockchain start-up eHarvestHub is helping independent Colombian farmers to expand their food production and export potential using data-driven blockchain technology to ensure full transparency across the food supply chain.
Partnering with the Comsab cooperative of independent farmers, eHarvestHub’s pilot programme enables supermarkets and farmers to work directly with one another, cutting out the middlemen and providing both with trustworthy data analytics to help them monitor supply and demand in real time.
Roughly 1,300 families will benefit from the pilot. For the farmers – who are producing bananas, avocado, plantain and lemons for Colombian consumers – the big advantage is being able to sell directly to grocers at a higher price than they would receive from middlemen.
In addition, farmers will have data regarding demand at their fingertips, so they can grow whatever is needed and even switch produce based on what the market wants.
Finally, the streamlining of this entire process will allow farmers to invest their time more efficiently, increasing marketing activity or meeting international food standards so they can export and complete globally.